Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
Can Dog Warts Be Removed Naturally?
If your dog has been diagnosed with unsightly warts by a veterinarian, you may be looking for natural home remedies to get rid of them. You may have even stumbled upon Thuja occidentalis for dog wart removal, but you're probably wondering if it even works.
Back when I worked for a vet, a client once reported trying thuja for her dog. The outstanding results left the vet, who had advised surgery a few weeks prior, baffled. Before trying out this natural remedy, however, it's important to learn more about thuja and the numerous causes of warts in dogs.
What Is Thuja?
First off, what exactly is it? Thuja, also known as the eastern white cedar or arbor vitae—meaning "Tree of Life"—is a large evergreen tree native to eastern North America, belonging to the cypress family. These trees are often used ornamentally for hedges and landscape projects.
Herbal remedies are made from the oil of the plant's branches and tiny leaves because it contains the medicinal terpene thujone. In ancient times, the needles of Thuja occidentalis were made into a tea and used by native Canadians to prevent and treat scurvy. In the 19th century, the plant was made into a tincture or ointment and was often used to treat skin problems such as warts, ringworm, and thrush.
While many claim that thuja is effective, the American Cancer Society states that there is not enough scientific evidence to support safety and effectivity claims. In one study on teat warts in cattle, however, thuja was used for three weeks; the results suggest that it could offer a promising alternative to surgery.
Caution should always be used with any herbal supplements. It's always best to first consult with your veterinarian or holistic veterinarian.
What Exactly Are Dog Warts?
Warts are quite common in puppies and young dogs under two years of age and are mostly caused by the papilloma virus. These are highly contagious growths that often present in clusters and can be easily passed from one pup to another by direct contact such as sharing toys, water bowls, and food dishes.
How to Prevent Them From Spreading
If you have more than one dog and one of your dogs is affected, be careful and keep them separated. Also, if you take your dog to daycare or dog parks, refrain from doing so until your vet says it's okay.
Are Dog Warts Contagious to Humans?
No. This condition is species-specific (contagious only among dogs) and cannot be transmitted to humans, children, babies, or cats. These warts are typically found on the dog's lips, nose, and gums, but may occasionally spread to other areas.
What Causes Them?
These cauliflower-shaped, anemone-like growths are often a sign of a poor immune response which is why they're more often found on puppies, immunosuppressed dogs on immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisone, and older dogs. Dogs may also develop these unsightly growths after being vaccinated.
In young dogs, the warts often resolve on their own and eventually fall off after about 3 to 6 months, although sometimes they become infected and may require a course of azithromycin, a common antibiotic.
Warts In Older Dogs
Warts may also affect older dogs and may again be a sign of poor immune system function. (Veterinarian Shawn Messionier refers to them as “old dog warts.") Many times, these wart-like growths turn out to be sebaceous adenomas and epitheliomas.
Unlike puppy warts, these can occur anywhere other than on the mucous membranes. They may also present as single growths rather than clusters, and since they're not caused by the papilloma virus, they're not contagious. They're quite common in poodles, Malteses, and Bichon Frises.
When Is Removal Necessary?
While warts may look like innocent growths, at times they can become quite bothersome. They may itch, cause problems eating, and can become irritated and bleed if they are in a troublesome location—like where a dog repeatedly chews or scratches.
In these instances, where other options have failed, vets may suggest having these growths surgically removed or for the dog to undergo cryotherapy (freezing), but cryotherapy can be painful. Not to mention, these growths may grow back if the immune system is still weak. In some cases, supplements may help out.
Veterinarian Karen Becker Discusses Dog Warts and Thuja
Is It a Wart or Something Else?
If your dog has a wart, it's always best to see your vet. Even though rare, some growths may look like warts but may actually be something more serious. For instance, mast cell tumors, often known as the "great imitators," may look like old dog warts. In some very rare cases, a wart can also transform into a squamous cell carcinoma, adds veterinarian Karen Becker.
Both can be ruled out by doing a fine needle aspirate of the growth. Yet, in many cases, vets readily recognize the classic appearance of warts and will diagnose them on the spot.
Treating From the Inside Out
Because dog warts are more common in dogs with a weak immune system, reinforcing the immune system may help treat the dog from the inside out. This is why holistic practitioners also recommend giving thuja after dog vaccinations.
Dr. Karen Becker also suggests not over-vaccinating dogs and offering a healthy diet to those suffering from warts. Veterinarian Shawn Messionier also recommends using an immune-supporting supplement known as Immuno Support (made of arabinogalactans, lutein, and shitake mushrooms) to boost the immune system.
How to Use Thuja occidentalis 30c
Thuja can be helpful, especially for warts seen in puppies and young dogs. Thuja occidentalis 30c comes in drops or pellets. Some products are meant to be applied topically (directly on the warts), while others—under the form of pellets or drops—are meant to be given by mouth. Make sure you read the proper dosage for dogs and the directions on the label carefully
Always ask your vet before giving your dog any supplements. Don't forget to share your success story in the comments section below.
Kachhawa, J.P.. (2017). Homeopathic management of canine oral papilloma in a dog: a case report. Indian Journal Of Canine Practice. 9. 112-113.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a foster female boxer that has cauliflower looking growths on her ears and a larger one on her back hip. I’ve read that some of these are contagious and I certainly don’t want it to spread to my own dogs. What should I do?
Answer: To know if these are contagious, you would need diagnosis from a vet to ascertain that what you are seeing are truly warts caused by a papilloma virus. If so, yes, these can be potentially contagious from dog to dog. You would need to separate them considering that it can easily be transmitted such as your dog picking up a stick that your foster dog has been carrying in the mouth. In general, younger dogs are more susceptible due to their lower immune systems, but still, it is possible for dogs of all ages to get them. Generally, the incubation time can be as long as two months.
© 2015 Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 04, 2020:
Cheryl, whether you can use thuja with the meds you are currently giving and with your dog's medical condition, is something you will have to discuss with your vet.
Cheryl coles on March 04, 2020:
I have an old dog with warts but she has Addison’s disease can I use thuja 200 along with her meds which are steroids
Tonya on February 19, 2020:
Hi, our 1yr old has a wart on her foot and surgery is now recommended. I’d love to try this Thuja, where can we buy it, what brand and how much do you give a 56lb dog? We clearly do not have a holistic vet. :( any advice would be helpful!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 26, 2019:
Isabel, how much to give your dog is something you should ask your vet. A vet should always be consulted before giving any types of supplements to dogs.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 26, 2019:
Cindy, so sorry about your dog having an allergic reaction possibly to shiitake mushrooms. A vet should always be consulted before giving any supplements. I would ask your vet whether you should try thuja alone.
Cindy on October 21, 2019:
Used Thuja and RX Vitamins for Pets Immuno Support for 5 days. Saw some results on old dog warts and healthier looking hair (14 yr old large Yorki). On 6th day we almost lost him due to allergic reaction, involving sever vomiting and trouble breathing. Gave him a diphenydramine 12.5 tablet and massaged his swollen neck. Emergency Vets over hour 1/2 away. Read shiitake mushrooms (found in Immuno Support product) can cause this reaction. Do I dare try to use Thuja alone topically ?
Isabel Allison on October 04, 2019:
I just bought thuja pellets 30c how many can I give my dog he was 79lb?
Cecilia on September 26, 2019:
I put my dog in Thuja pellets. It worked wonders in just one week!!! The warts shrunk, almost gone!!!
I’m wondering though How many times Can i repeat the treatment to make the warts go away completely?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 23, 2019:
Lori, You should follow the directions on the label or call the company directly, or even better, ask your vet. Each product is different. When I purchased Thuja for my dogs after getting their rabies vaccine, my vet didn't like that it contained alcohol and said he rather use types without it. So I got the brand he suggested.
Lori on August 21, 2019:
I purchased liquid Thuja to give to my 11 year old dog that have a lot of warts on her body. Can you please share how much I give her each day?
she is 14 lbs
the Thuja that I bought does have organic cane alcohol in it
Todd on January 26, 2019:
My Bassett hound had one large wart on his lip about the size of a grape and another cluster of warts inside his cheek. He also had small warts popping up on his gums. It was very distressing. We used vitamin E liquid directly on the warts for several weeks. We then tried Thuga for two or three weeks. Next was vitamin E oil. What seems to have finally cured this was Head to Tail Immune Support. We gave him two treats per day for about 10 days and the warts are suddenly gone! We were on the verge of possibly having surgery to remove the large one on his lip. So the immune boosting treats seems to have helped his body fight this virus. Hope this helps someone.
Jeannie St. Pierre on August 15, 2018:
how do I administer Thuja to my dog? Can I put it in a pc. of food like a cucumber, or pc. of cheese or meat?
Kelsie on August 13, 2018:
Administered 6 pellets in a tbsp of pumpkin 1/day for a week and what a difference! My 10mo dog had clusters of warts and now they’re almost all gone. The vet recommended waiting them out as they usually clear up within 3 months and it didn’t seem to be bothering him but I wanted a natural remedy to speed up the process and thuja did the trick!!
For other dog owners out there here’s what my vet said about the warts:
1. Get them checked to ensure they aren’t tumors
2. They tend to clear themselves up within 3 months if the dog is under 1yo (longer if it’s an older dog).
3. Surgical removal is invasive, has a high bleeding risk, and often results in them coming back anyway.
4. Antibiotics are ONLY if infected. Since the warts are viral, antibiotics won’t do anything to get rid of them.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 07, 2018:
Kelly, thank you for sharing what your biologist said. My holistic vet just last week approved the use of Thuja to use for my Rotties before and after getting a rabies vaccine. Since they are 10 years old we were concerned about the side effects of vaccines. He told me that he prefers the pellet form of Thuja occidentalis versus the versions in alcohol. He said not very fond of alcohol products for dogs. We used it for a few days and I must confess I was a bit worried after reading Smokey's story. But my holistic vet reassured me that he has used it many times with success. Luckily everything went fine.
Kelly on February 26, 2018:
Adrienne, I just read Smokey's sad story regarding his dog passing after one dose of Thuja. I have a liquid detox formula with Thuja that a vet sold me to administer after a dog's vaccine - Bordatella, I think. I used it without any problems but later when working with a biologist on a natural heartworm treatment plan for my dog, his comment on Thuja was "Be cautious with the thuja mixture you are using. Thuja is a very strong herb and can create negative neurological symptoms and in a quick period of time. The only time i would ever want to use a direct source of thuja internally is when im trying to remove skin tags, warts, and liver spots from the skin. Thats it. " I have never seen this repeated anywhere else. Although I am a true homeopathic advocate, I just found it interesting in light of the story below.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 01, 2018:
Smokey, so sorry to hear about your dog. It's always important to consult with your vet or holistic vet before trying any supplements just to play it safe. I could not find any evidence-based literature of Thuja causing the symptoms you are seeing. I looked up in Google scholar and only found Thuja occidentalis being used in homeopathy for the treatment of cancer, and actually having anti-cancer effects in humans when used to address an aggressive type of brain tumor known as glioblastoma. See "Pro-apoptotic and anti-angiogenic properties of the α /β-thujone fraction from Thuja occidentalis on glioblastoma cells." It may help to see another vet for a second opinion. The signs you are seeing sound like "old dog vestibular disease" but only an MRI or CT scan can 100 percent differentiate the two. If vestibular in nature, symptoms generally get better within a week. Here's what a vet says about these two conditions: "https://www.justanswer.com/dog-health/5y4ub-tell-d... " Hopefully, it's the latter, although the chances for brain cancer are always possible in senior dogs.
Smokey Aguirre on January 31, 2018:
Just wondering if I just helped terminate my dog. I gave my 14 yr old Lab 1 pellet of Thuja Occidentalis last night and about an hour later she started walking sideways, head tilted and her pupils moving rapidly up and down. I thought the symptoms would pass, but she never got better. We took her to the vet this AM and they diagnosed with with a possible brain tumor causing this. I asked if the Thuja Occidentalis could have been a factor and they said probably not, but cannot be 100% sure. I am racked with guilt over this as I was only trying to help her get rid of her warts. I cannot believe 1 little pill would bring this on, but there is no other logical explanation. Any thoughts please!!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 25, 2018:
CJ, as mentioned in the article there are different types of thuja, some meant for topical application and some to be taken internally. Most likely, that product you are referring to is just for topical application for areas other than the mouth. I have asked the company though and will let you know what they reply. Always best to consult the vet before starting a dog on supplements.
CJ on January 25, 2018:
You show a picture of the wart in the mouth, but the Thuja linked specifically says do not use around the mouth. So, that seems contradictory. My dog as a wart on her front lip that we are desperate to get rid of but concerned if this is a safe option.
Haley on October 03, 2017:
My 10 month Golden had one the size of a dime inside of his lip. It seemed like it came out of nowhere and was pretty large. The vet acted like she had never seen anything like it before and said it must be removed. So he had it surgically removed but I'm afraid more will just grow back. Even though it's gone would giving him the Thuja pills prevent it from coming back?
Matt on August 08, 2017:
Emiz My German Shepherd has the same thing going on . She has two good sized ones on her tongue. Did you dissolve the little pills in water then have them drink it or how did you administer?
Matt Dwerlkotte on August 02, 2017:
I just picked up my Thuja Occidentals 30C today and I am wondering how to administer it. Can I simply mix it in with her food? Should I put the pills in peanut butter?
firstname.lastname@example.org on April 23, 2017:
My vet told me that Demodex was caused by dogs being raised around cattle is this true?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 02, 2015:
Emily Z thanks for sharing your story about your puppy's warts. Good to hear that thuja worked for your puppy's warts. I love success stories as such. Yay for thuja!
EmiZ on May 02, 2015:
My pup got warts in his mouths which probably came from the dog park. They were rapidly growing so I got him to the vet. She prescribed antibiotics ( I'm not a fan) so I thought I would give it a try to be sure to give my dog a good round of probiotics afterwards. $160 dollars later the warts persisted.
I read about thuja and within the first week the warts were diminishing and the 2nd week they were gone. I love a $7 safe remedy! Too bad the vet charged me so much for nothing.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 16, 2015:
Thanks, my dogs are getting older and if I ever notice a wart, I would see the vet first and then would rather try to treat it the natural way.
Amanda from Michigan on March 15, 2015:
Thanks for posting such an informative article! Although I don't have issues with warts on my animals currently, I know I will always have animals in my life and I know how important it is to be educated about my pet's health. I found your article to be very interesting. :)