Animals Like Dogs, Horses & Cattle Also Get Them – Treatment

Animal Warts

Although the bumps on the skins of toads are called “warts,” they are, in fact, not warts at all (e.g., they are not caused by papillomavirus and are not related to any infectious process). The bumps that we call warts are part of a toad’s protective camouflage and help it blend in with its dry, rocky environment. The toad’s “warts” may also contain glands that secrete toxins and discourage predators from eating the toad.

As with warts on humans, this form of the disease is highly infectious and is also caused by various forms of papillomavirus. The value of an animal is diminished when it is infected with warts. They normally appear to be small lesions that are shaped like cauliflower. Younger animals, in most cases, tend to have papillomatosis and are easier to detect, and full-grown animals normally grow individual warts. The longevity of warts’ existence varies on where the animal was infected and on what type of virus was it infected. Normally, dogs, cattle, and horses grow warts that are caused by species-specific papillomavirus.

Humans can not get warts from handling toads, because toads do not have viral warts. There are, however, many species of animal that can develop actual warts caused by strains of papillomavirus. In fact, warts can be found in all domestic animal species, including birds and fish. Cattle, horses, and dogs are the domestic animals most commonly affected by warts. Animal warts are mainly a cosmetic concern, but because they are caused by a virus, animals that have warts are not allowed to enter shows or competitions.

What Causes Animal Warts?

The papillomaviruses that cause warts on animals are breed-specific–bovine papillomavirus causes warts in cows but can not cause warts in humans or dogs (or any other species). It is common for young animals to develop clusters of warts and older animals to develop a single wart. Insects (i.e., ticks, mosquitoes) likely transmit the papillomavirus between animals. Young animals are often affected by warts on the face and neck because the skin is thinner and the hair has not grown as dense as on older animals.

In cattle, warts are likely to develop on the head, neck, and shoulders. The papillomavirus often infects the cow through a break in the skin. Warts begin to appear about 8 weeks after the cow is infected with the virus and last for about 1 year. Calves are most susceptible to the papillomavirus; it is rare to find warts on a cow that is older than 2 years.

Warts on Dogs

warts on animals nose dog

Young dogs can develop mucous membrane papillomatosis or warts in and around the mouth and throat. The warts are usually harmless but can interfere with the animal’s ability to chew and swallow. Older dogs generally develop solitary warts in the mucous membranes.

Dogs are considered to be one the most susceptible animals for acquiring warts caused by the papillomavirus. Like other forms of animal warts, these are caused by some types of papillomavirus, specific to canines. Warts on dogs are commonly found on the skin, also known as cutaneous papillomas, or in the mouth, also known as oral cavity papillomas. There is also a possibility for dogs to grow warts on their feet, paws, eyelids, face and outside their genitals.

There are some breeds that are genetically susceptible when it comes to growing warts. Dogs that have weakened the immune system or are immunocompromised, like dogs who are on corticosteroid therapy or very young puppies and dogs that are below 2 years old, are more likely to grow warts when infected with papillomavirus than full-grown dogs. Warts on dogs are highly infectious to other dogs as well but don’t have any effect on humans and cats. When a dog is infected, immunization is necessary and is injected in cuts, wounds, or any skin opening. A dog may acquire the infection or grow warts eventually when in direct contact with a dog infected with warts or papillomavirus.

Not only can the infection be passed on through direct contact, but a dog can also be infected indirectly as papillomavirus can thrive in warm and moist areas and once a dog has at least a small wound or skin opening, it will be infected with the virus. Once dogs are infected, warts may occur within one to eight weeks but may remain for months or a few years.

In the case of oral warts on dogs, you may want to have your dog checked by the veterinarian if you see any unusual lumps on your dog’s mouth. They may be able to identify if it’s infected with papillomavirus or not. There is a slight danger in oral warts as it can become cancerous, so veterinarians will perform a biopsy on the lump to provide an accurate diagnosis, but this procedure may vary based on the age of the dog.

Warts in Horses

wart animal warts on horse nose

Horses develop warts on the nose, lips, eyelids, legs, genitals, and udder and inside the ears. Again, the virus often infects the animal through broken skin. Warts resolve in a matter of months on young horses and may last for over a year on older horses.

Warts found on horses are also caused by papillomavirus but with a type that is specific to horses. This type of infection will not infect nor harm humans in any way. Warts commonly occur on young horses but may, occasionally, occur on full-grown horses. Common areas where warts grow are the ears, genitals, lips, and muzzle but can possibly grow on any part of the body. Warts appear to be like other animal warts. They appear to be small lesions that are bumpy and round. As in most cases of papillomavirus infection, being infected with the virus or growing warts doesn’t mean it is a form of disadvantage on the health of the horses.

Warts on Cattle

cow with warts

The wart found on cattle is a form of papillomavirus specifically known as BPV or bovine papillomavirus. Warts normally occur on shoulders, head, and neck and would sometimes occur in the inner part of the ear, on the back and the abdomen. The most vulnerable from being infected are calves. They even get more easily infected when calves have cuts or skin openings. They are recklessly infected when they get a tattoo or ear tags for them to be identified by their owners and it is not even surprising to see when warts have grown all over the tattoo.

Once infected, visible growths appear in about a month to 6 months and may persist for over a year. When not detected right away after being infected, the infection may transfer to almost all of those in the herd, especially if the herd is a group of young cattle. After initial infection of papillomatosis, they will receive immunity from the virus for 3 to 4 weeks and the infection may recur if the immune system of the cattle is weak. Sometimes, you may find warts grow on lactating cows’ teats.

Any cow who is infected with the papillomavirus may grow or may not grow warts at all. However, even if infected cattle don’t grow warts and have infected calves, the calves may possibly grow warts. It is very common for cattle to be infected with BPV and in fact, they are known to be the main point of supply of the infectious virus. Even so, tools and instruments used in taking care of cattle like ropes and halters can possibly be a medium for transmitting the virus.

Treatment for Animal Warts

Like any other warts, these warts heal and disappear by themselves. It may cause some problems, depending on where warts grew. You may want to consider removing them through surgery especially if the wart grew near the eyes. If not removed, it may cause eyesight complications. You may also opt to remove all warts through surgery but is not needed at all because most horses aren’t troubled to have warts on their body. The horses are also able to perform basic functions even if they have warts. Warts can occur to horses of all ages and may occur at any area of their body. There is no need to rush whenever warts are detected but it is also good to have it checked by the veterinarian for more analysis on warts.

Animal Warts Prevention and Treatment

With animals, there are various ways to treat warts and the kind of treatment used on warts would also vary on what animal is infected and where it’s infected. One of the ways used to remove warts is through surgical excision. Nevertheless. It must be used on warts that are starting to regress because if growing warts are removed too early, it could trigger the recurrence of warts and may increase in number and spread even further.

One way to prevent other animals from being infected is through isolation but make sure that treatment is performed right away on the infect animal because if the infected animal is only isolated for a long time, it may still infect other animals and may not show symptoms of infection. One preventive measure you may take to make sure that the animal doesn’t acquire the disease is through immunization, especially if you take care of animals in herds. Vaccination must be given to animals at a very young age to prevent the possibility of the animal being infected with papillomavirus. For cattle, it must be given as early as 4 to 6 weeks old.

The most common treatment for animal warts, whatever the species, is to let the wart on your animal run its course. It is always a good idea to isolate infected animals, so the virus does not spread. Be careful to sterilize all tack or equipment that has touched an animal that suffers from warts before using it on another, non-infected animal. Surgical removal of animal warts is an option.

Disinfection of shelters, barns, tools, and equipment is necessary to make sure that there are no organisms causing diseases that are around causing infection to animals. You may also want to consult with a veterinarian with regards to effective control program on farms.


This page is about warts on animals such as horses and dogs. For information about warts on humans, simply check out our warts page.

Indiana State Board of Animal Health [Internet]. Preventing Animal Warts. Indiana State Board of Animal Health Tech Bulletin RC4-11.98 [cited 2010 Jun 15]. Available from:

Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine [Internet]. Morter RL, Horstman L. Cattle warts: bovine papillomatosis [cited 2010 Jun 15]. Available from: [Internet]. Blood-Horse Publications; c2010. Miller W Jr. Warts [cited 2010 Jun 15]. Available from:

The Ohio State University Extension [Internet]. Knebusch K. Smart Stuff With Twig Walkingstick: toad warts [cited 2010 Jun 16]. Available from:

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