Dog Warts – Cause, Symptoms, and Treatments for Canine Viral Papillomatosis

Warts don’t just affect humans. Your dog can also get them. The most likely to be affected are dogs that spend a lot of time with other dogs, younger dogs, specific breeds (specifically pugs and cocker spaniels) as well as canines that are immunosuppressed.

What is a Dog Wart?

The technical term for dog warts is canine viral papillomatosis. While it may sound somewhat scary, warts on dogs are not usually all that serious from a medical standpoint. Medically speaking, one reason to get the wart on your dog looked at right away by your vet is to rule out any other more harmful diseases he or she could be carrying.  

What Causes Warts on Dogs?

Just as the human papillomavirus causes warts on humans, the canine papillomavirus causes warts on your dog. But while this virus is contagious to other canines, it is not transferable to humans or to other types of animals.

Just as having cuts on your feet and walking through the gym barefoot can earn you a nice foot wart, breaks or cuts on your puppy leaves him or her open to infection when he comes into contact with an infected dog or something that dog has come into contact with. The contact with an infected object can occur much later since canine papillomavirus can last for a few weeks in some environments.

Also similar to the human version of the virus which has many different strands affecting various body parts (such as that of plantar warts ([feet] or filiform warts [face]), the canine version also has different strands that cause specific forms of the virus on different parts of the canine body (i.e. warts on the face and paws are different strands). Once a dog has been infected with a specific strand of the canine papillomavirus, it will be immune to that specific strand, but is still susceptible to infection of other strands.

What are the Symptoms of Dog Warts?

A physical exam by your Vet can usually enough to diagnose whether your dog has warts without getting into too much testing. Typically, bumps that resemble a head of cauliflower appear around the dog’s toes, mouth, eyes or anywhere on their skin.  Sometimes, they are so little or there are just one or two, they can go undiscovered for a while.  

But in other cases, they can engulf a canine’s body and look horrendous. Left untreated and irritated, there are cases where warts on the feet of dogs have resulted in lameness. Warts appearing on a dog’s lips and mouth could make eating and drinking difficult.

How to Get Rid of Dog Warts

We all want our pups to look great and it’s understandable that you will want to get it resolved as soon as possible. Dog wart removal usually can happen on its own in healthy animals since the body will start to build up immunity.

There are cases however, where it’s recommended that removal action be taken by your vet:

  • When a wart is infected with bacteria or is bleeding
  • If your dog has any serious health conditions or is taking immunosuppressive medicine, it may not be able to fight off the virus on its own
  • When a wart is quite big or there are many
  • When a wart is in an area that could lead to irritation in the eyes, paw lameness, difficulty with food or water or any other secondary issues
  • It’s uncommon, but warts that have not dissipated on their own in 3 to 5 months should be treated as it’s possible they could turn into cancerous tumors

 Remedies your Veterinarian Might Take for Removal

Surgical Removal Options – When there are only a few concerning warts, surgery is usually the treatment that vets go with. Using laser, cryosurgery or a scalpel, the veterinarian can destroy or remove the warts.

When there are a lot of warts, medications are usually needed. The effectiveness isn’t always known due to the fact that warts do tend to go away on their own, but these are some of the methods vets have used to treat canine warts:

  • Azithromycin – There was a study done that showed this treatment to be effective when used as an oral antibiotic.
  • Autogenous vaccination – To do this, a vaccine consisting of the canine’s own warts is used to kickstart the immune system to fight the virus. Similarly, existing warts were broken up to release particles into the dog’s system that would stimulate the immune system.
  • Cimetidine – a medication that could potentially boost the immune system when taken orally.
  • Imiquimod – topical antitumor/anti-viral medication
  • Interferon – Taken through injection or orally, it is designed as an immune system stimulant. 

Stopping Dog Warts from Spreading

For the most part, if your dog has a healthy immune system and no medical issues, you shouldn’t have a problem with warts. It’s a no brainer that you shouldn’t let him interact with another dog that has visible signs of warts.

If your dog is already ill, has a weakened immune system or cuts, it’s advisable to keep him away from other dogs until he’s better. Dog parks, kennels, etc.

Should your dog develop warts, while he is healing, you should keep him away from other dogs as well to keep warts from spreading to those other dogs.

References: – comprehensive information regarding all types of warts – Further information regarding other animal warts. – our goto for all pet ailments

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