Dogs get moles just like people do. A mole is a small growth on the skin also called a nevus. Moles are not the same as skin tags, in that moles tend to be flatter with a broader base. Skin tags protrude more from the skin and are usually connected by a slender stalk. Either way, both these lesions are benign.
Your dog may get pink, white, gray, or black moles. They are typically small, less than a quarter inch in diameter. They usually have a smooth surface – as opposed to a wart which has a cauliflower-like surface – and are hairless.
The first time you see any skin growth on your dog, it’s a good idea to have it checked by your veterinarian just to be sure it isn’t something more harmful. There are two cancerous skin lesions that can initially look like a mole: mast cell tumors and malignant melanoma. Your veterinarian may take a sample using a fine needle aspirate and submit it for testing (cytology) to rule out these malignancies.
Be advised, ticks and moles look a lot alike upon cursory inspection. Before you start trying to pull off that mole, thinking it’s a tick, look closely, using a magnifying glass if necessary. If it’s a tick, you should be able to see the legs sticking out. Your dog will not appreciate your efforts toward removing a mole, and you will likely get it irritated and bleeding.
Once it’s been confirmed that your dog’s skin growth is a mole, there is no need to have it removed. Careful monitoring, however, is advised. Benign lesions don’t change much. Causes for concern include any change in color, size, or texture. Irregular, jagged edges forming in an originally smooth border is suspicious, as is a previously quiet lesion that suddenly seems to be bothering your dog. If any of these things are happening, get to the vet.
If you want to have a mole electively removed for whatever reason (e.g., cosmetic, groomer keeps nicking it, the dog keeps licking it, it keeps bleeding), this is usually easily achieved. Many veterinarians now have cryotherapy units and can quickly and painlessly freeze the mole off. Alternatively, most moles can be easily surgically removed using just local anesthesia.