Dog Warts: Symptoms, Treatments, and Home Remedies
One day while brushing your dog's teeth, you look into their mouth only to notice an odd-looking growth on their gums. The growth almost resembles cauliflower—or maybe it looks more like a sea anemone. As odd as the growth looks, you are relieved to note that it does not appear to be painful; still concerned, you decide to have your veterinarian take a look.
Once at the animal clinic, your veterinarian refers to the growth as a ''papilloma''—the canine equivalent of a human wart. These warts are caused by the papillomavirus, a virus similar to the one that causes human warts. The good news is that the dog version of the virus is not zoonotic, so dogs cannot transmit papillomas to their owners.
What Is Papillomatosis in Dogs?
Papillomas usually appear on young dogs and have a preference for certain body parts and soft tissue such as the lips, tongue, mouth, eyelids, and between the toes. While the virus does not affect humans, it is transmissible between dogs. Dogs most susceptible to the virus are those with an underdeveloped immune system, which is why it affects mostly puppies and young dogs.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The incubation period of the virus from first exposure to the showing of symptoms is 1–2 months. It is always recommended to have a dog with papillomas seen by a veterinarian. Sometimes the growths may become infected and require antibiotics, and there have been instances, though rare, where papillomas turn malignant.
It is important to note that there is also another variety of papilloma that affects senior dogs called ''cutaneous papilloma." In this case, the warts are more likely to appear in various locations on the body versus the oral cavity.
Dog Warts Explained by a Veterinarian
The Treatment of Papillomatosis in Dogs
Most cases of papilloma go away on their own with age as a young dog develops better immunity. Puppies generally fight off the virus within 2–3 months. In some cases, a vet may manually crush a few papillomas to encourage the immune system to fight them off.
Gentle Home Remedies for Dog Warts
- Vitamin E: The application of vitamin E may help to reduce the size of certain papillomas. This is achieved by puncturing a gel capsule and applying its contents directly to the dog's warts for 2–3 weeks; this can reduce the size of the warts significantly.
- Castor Oil: Castor oil may also be applied to warts in order to soften them and relieve irritation.
- Thuja: Thuja (Thuja occidentalis) is also recommended for reducing warts in dogs. As always, discuss this option with your vet.
The Treatment of Stubborn Cases
Occasionally there are severe cases where a dog will present with multiple papillomas; sometimes, this even affects their ability to eat. In such cases, the growths may need to be surgically removed or frozen off. Alternatively, interferon therapy has also been effective in fighting off warts; several emerging studies also suggest that the human drug, azithromycin, shows promise.
While most papillomas go away on their own, it is recommended to have them evaluated by a vet just to be safe.
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.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli