Dog Warts: Symptoms, Treatments, and Home Remedies

Updated on November 28, 2016

It all happens one day upon brushing your dog's teeth. You look into your dog's mouth only to notice an odd looking growth right on your dog's gums. The growth has almost the resemblance of a cauliflower, or perhaps more like a sea anemone you saw once on one of those ocean themed documentaries. As odd as the growth appears, you are relieved to notice it does not appear to be painful, however, still concerned you decide to have your veterinarian take a look.

Once at the animal clinic your veterinarian takes a look and calls the growth a ''papilloma'' the canine equivalent of a human's wart. The papilloma is caused by the papillomavirus, a virus similar to the one that causes human warts, however the dog version does not cross species lines, so dogs may not transmit papillomas to their owners.

Symptoms of Papillomatosis in Dogs

Papillomas usually appear on young dogs and have a preference for certain body parts such as the lips,tongue, mouth, eye lids and between the toes. While the virus as mentioned does not affect humans, it is capable of transmitting mainly between dogs. The dogs most prone to the virus are those with an underdeveloped immune system, therefore explaining why it affects mainly puppies and young dogs.

The incubation period between exposure to a dog affected by papilloma virus and the time the dog is infected is between 1-2 months. It is always recommended to have a dog with papillomas to be seen by a veterinarian. Sometimes the growths may become infected requiring antibiotics and there have been instances, even though rare, of papillomas turning malignant.

There is also another variety of papilloma that affects senior dogs which is known as ''cutaneous pappilloma''. In this case, the warts are more likely to appear in various locations on the body on the contrary to the from affecting young dogs affected the oral cavity.

Treatment of Papillomatosis in Dogs

Most cases of papilloma go away on their own as the puppy's or young dog's immune system grows stronger and fights against the virus. Puppies usually are able to fight off the virus within 2-3 months. In some cases, when the immune system appears not to ''see'' these growths, the vet may crush a few papillomas to encourage the immune system to fight them off.

The application of Vitamin E obtained by puncturing a gel capsule and applying its contents directly on the dog's skin warts for 2 - 3 weeks can reduce their size significantly.

Castor oil may also be applied to skin warts to soften them and relieve irritation. Thuja has been receiving pretty decent reviews in treating warts in dogs . You can read more about it here: Thuja for dog warts.

However, there are also severe cases where dogs may be affected by multiple papillomas to an extent of creating problems for the dog to eat. In such cases, the growths may need to be surgically removed or frozen off. The antiviral medication Interferon has shown to be effective in fighting warts. There are new studies suggesting that the human drug Azithromycin may be effective.

While most papillomas go away on their own, it is recommended to have them evaluated by a vet just to be safe.

Disclaimer: the above article is for educational purposes only and should NOT be used as a diagnostic tool nor as a substitute for professional veterinary advice.

Puppies and Young Dogs are more Prone to Papillomas



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    • profile image

      Deiter 14 months ago

      Thanks I noticed this on inside of my 1yo german shorthair. Became very concerned. I will sure look into this THUJA product.

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Sounds like a good product, worth a try, of course after the vet rules out the wart isn't anything serious.

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      Carol Dodson 6 years ago

      Article said use Vitamin E for two to three weeks but not how often ?

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      Karen 6 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      Carol 7 years ago

      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.

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      Cristina 7 years ago


      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.

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      Adi 7 years ago

      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

    • Curious Jen profile image

      Curious Jen 8 years ago from Canada/Nicaragua

      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 profile image

      l1blonde 8 years ago

      You learn something new every day. I have never heard of this before. Good information. Thanks.