Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
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
Jannell on October 05, 2018:
I tried everything for my poor teacup west yorkie, Full/Broad Spectrum CBD helped heal her in 4days! I could cry just thinking about how awful and miserable she was. Her breath smelled rancid and she had over 29 huge growths it was so horrible and I was tmrunning out of options and hope. I decided to add the CBD both Full Spectrum and Broad spectrum CBD with distilled water, spirulina, turmeric, ginger and L-Lysine. In 4 days she was cured. She now has life long immunity. She gave it to my 2 year old teacup whose immune system cured it in 2 weeks with only a couple doses of L-Lysine, turmeric, ginger, spirulina and Probiotics. So now both my tiny furbabies have lifetime immunity from this possible cancerous virus. Please consider using a well known CBD full and broad spectrum Oil from a qualified company especially one thats known for winning the cannabis cup. The CBD my puppy took was only 4.2 mil of CBD per dose, but she's a tiny pup. Bigger dogs may be able to handle a higer doseage. My furbaby handled the CBD well & I only dosed her at night 3 hours apart for 4 days. I had to share, I'm so thankful my pups have a great immune system and lifelong immunity.
Nickipgh on July 16, 2018:
So our 3-year-old mixed breed rescue developed a papilloma around Memorial Day this year. Vet crushed it but it didn’t work. Started out size of blueberry now size of grape. I got Thuja 200c. Have given him 3 doses of 3 pills each (every other day) and have tried to apply it topically but on the lip hard to tell how much remains. He weighs 69 pounds. No side effects as of yet, no reduction in size also. Also started giving him coconut oil hoping to boost his immune system. I cannot find any definitive information on proper dosage, frequency or how best to administer. I’ve been putting it in food which he swallows. It does not seem to be infected or bothering him although I notice he licks his lips (moreso nose) repeatedly sometimes. Vet says it should go away within 1-6 months but he is banned from daycare or other dogs. He LOVES other animals and all people! I asked author a question a couple of days ago but no reply as of yet. Can anyone please help me?
Nickipgh on July 13, 2018:
We have a 3-year-old mixed breed rescue who developed a papilloma on his lip over this past Memorial Day weekend. It was about the size of a blueberry. I took him to our vet, who I love and is not holistic, and she knew immediately it was a papilloma. She assured me it wasn’t anything to be concerned about and advised me about the crushing treatment which she did. She got a small piece off and at first I thought it was getting smaller but now it’s bigger than when it first appeared. She said she could remove it but it should probably fall off in 1-6 months on its own and to let her know if it gets infected.
He loves to play with other dogs but cannot until this is resolved! I read about Thuja and ordered 200c pills from Amazon. I have looked everywhere but cannot find proper dosage recommendations for a 69-pound dog! I also read that the higher the # the more times it’s been diluted. I called a few holistic vets and unless I am willing to have a 1/2 hour consult for $105 I wasn’t able to get any advice. While I understand and respect that I’m not doing it. I gave him 3 pills Wednesday and 3 pills tonight along with dissolving 4 in some water and applying topically. Can anyone tell me if this is ok? How long, how often and how much should I do this to get rid of it? Are there any side effects I need to watch for? We love him dearly and would never intentionally do anything that would harm him. We just want this thing gone sooner rather than later! Thanks for any suggestions and advice!
Deiter on December 23, 2016:
Thanks I noticed this on inside of my 1yo german shorthair. Became very concerned. I will sure look into this THUJA product.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 10, 2013:
Sounds like a good product, worth a try, of course after the vet rules out the wart isn't anything serious.
Carol Dodson on October 06, 2011:
Article said use Vitamin E for two to three weeks but not how often ?
Karen on August 29, 2011:
My dog has papilloma virus and is taking Aldara (human cancer cream) and azithromycin. Nothing seems to touch it and I really don't want her to lose her leg as a result
Carol on December 03, 2010:
I'm disappointed that only one study supports use of azithromycin, which probably is not effective since the lesions are caused by a virus and azithromycin is an antibiotic, which only affects bacterial infections. Was the study replicated? Where and by whom? Was it published in a peer-reviewed journal? How many individual dogs were in the study? How many dropped out prior to completion? Was it double-blinded or did people know if they were getting the drug or a placebo? Was there a placebo group in the study? The fact that only one study was completed is not a good reason to start using a drug which lacks plausibility. Your dog probably would've gotten better anyway, without you spending money on a medication. Further, by giving dogs antibiotics, you are working to create a culture of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, so that when your dog gets an ailment, the antibiotic won't work.
Cristina on August 08, 2010:
Thank you for your post I left a msg with my chihuahua's (Bella) vet so hopefully I can get the prescriptionwithout much vet bill. My hub has been out of work for quite awhile and I just started a new job :)I could not access your pictures but found others that look like hers.
Adi on March 02, 2010:
After taking my 1 year old dog Bella to see vet COPV was diagnosed. COPV is Canine Oral Papilloma Virus (aka Warts). An article was published (Turkey 2008) about the use of Azithromycin in dogs with the Papilloma virus. Azithromycin is not an antiviral drug and COPV is a virus so I was hesitant in using it to treat COPV, but after reading the study it seems that the drug may attack a bacterial infection that causes the virus to run rampant or it may actually have an effect on COPV. I decided to get a prescription filled and take that course. The dosage was as follows:
- 5mg per pound in a suspension (suspension is water based formula the vet can explain this to you)
- Bella is 3lbs so her dosage was 15mg per day orally using a syringe plunger (without the needle)
I gave her the Azithromycin every morning at around 9am with food. The study I read indicated they gave the dogs 10 days of medicine but I extended the run to 14 days because the virus hit her hard as a smaller dog. As you can see by the pictures by the 10th day I saw possible improvement and by the 12th day the Papillomas inside her mouth were gone and the larger one outside her mouth crusted up and I gave them a little tug and they ripped off. It was like pulling a loose tooth. It didn’t seem painful to Bella.
Pictures can be found here:
I wrote this article because a lot of people are dealing with this issue of COPV for months with their dogs and this is a great way to heal your dog quickly. I actually had my vet pull the study that I based this treatment so I could read it and I found that ALL the dogs were cured within 15 days as Bella was. They also did the study using 17 breeds of dog so a wide spectrum was cured. The ones that were not on Azithromycin still had Papillomas after 2-3 months of follow up. As far as I can tell there is no reason not to use Azithromycin to cure your dog. I have read articles about the drug doing harm to the liver but in this short term I don’t see that being an issue. I also read that it does a little havoc to the stomach. Bella being a 3lb dog did fine. On day 4 I noticed she didn’t want to eat in the morning but that could have been for other reasons. So she was not affected negatively by the drug. I also gave it to her in the morning so she would eat and drink right after to rid herself of the taste of the drug and digest it as well. I also got her daily vitamins to take along with the drug every morning for the 14 days and I extended the run to 30 days. I did this to give a little boost to her immune system. The Vitamins were Pet Naturals Daily Best Soft Chews Dog Vitamins from PETCO.
I hope this article helps anybody out there who is dealing with COPV. I did my research and I am glad I found the study that cured my dog and I wanted to share it with anyone out there is search of answers. Don’t bother with the holistic stuff they are peddling on the internet. Just talk to your vet and get a prescription filled so you can have a healthy happy dog! If you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Curious Jen from Canada/Nicaragua on December 16, 2009:
Very good article. Thanks for your insight. Learning about pet health is important for every pet owner.
My cat had a cyst which kept reappearing even after the vet had removed it. It didn't seem painful and eventually we started to ignore it. She has now had it for a number of years now without any discomfort. In retrospect I wish we had never attempted to remove it and I should have spoken to my vet about every option.
l1blonde on May 26, 2009:
You learn something new every day. I have never heard of this before. Good information. Thanks.