Managing Dog Warts

It can happen without warning: You're happily admiring your furry friend's adorable smile and there it is—a wart! And then you spot another one, and another. What's going on here? Dog warts are called "canine papillomavirus." These bumps seem to crop up practically overnight and can spread quickly. They're usually found on the lips and in the mouth, but can also appear on the eyelids, throat, or paws—especially between the toes. From identifying where canine warts come from to removing these not-so-pretty skin growths, we've outlined everything you need to know about them. 

What Do Dog Warts Look Like? 

Dog warts have a rough texture similar to that of cauliflower, and you may see just one wart or multiple warts grouped together. While most warts can be easily identified, dog eyelid warts are a bit trickier to spot because they tend to blend in with the color of the skin. Look closely for bumpy spots near your furry friend's eye to identify potential dog eyelid warts.


→ RELATED: How to Clean Your Dog's Eyes and Ears 


How Do Dogs Contract Warts? 

dogs at park Dogs acquire the papillomavirus when they come into contact with an infected dog. Pups under two years old are still in their puppy developmental stages. Therefore, they are particularly susceptible because their immune system isn't mature enough to fight off the infection. After a dog has been exposed to the virus, it takes about one to two months for the warts to appear. Dog-to-dog transmission is common, but the virus can't be acquired from (or spread to) other types of animals. You're in no danger of catching warts from your pooch, either; canine papillomavirus can't infect humans. 

What Are the Side Effects of Warts? 

Warts are generally harmless and probably won't bother your dog, but they could cause some degree of discomfort if they show up on the eyes or mouth. In rare cases, warts located deep in the throat can make swallowing or breathing difficult. Dog wart bleeding is a common side effect of canine papillomavirus caused by pressure on the affected area. Although bleeding may not result in pain, it could lead to an infection and may require professional treatment. Contact your veterinarian for advice if you notice a bleeding dog wart. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Gets Warts? 

Treatment for dog warts usually isn't necessary. They typically disappear once your pet's immune system builds a defense against the virus. This process may take five months or longer, so don't expect the warts to disappear as quickly as they emerged. 

Even though most warts don't warrant a trip to the vet, it's a good idea to keep an eye on them. Check warts regularly for signs of irritation, bleeding, or interference with your pooch's activities as you wait for them to regress. If you spot any of these problems, consult your veterinarian for treatment recommendations. 

When is Dog Wart Removal Recommended? 

dog at vet
Depending on the location of your dog's warts—such as an eyelid or bottom of a paw—your veterinarian may recommend dog wart removal by electrocautery (burning), cryotherapy (freezing) or sharp resection (cutting). In some cases, removing one or more warts will cause the others to fade away. 

Warts that impair swallowing or breathing may require treatment with a vaccine. If any of the warts are infected, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe antibiotics. 

A Little Effort Goes a Long Way 

Stay on the lookout for canine warts when brushing your furry friend or cleaning their eyes, ears, or paws. If you notice any warts that are bleeding or seem to be causing discomfort, reach out to your vet for advice. Doing your due diligence is always a wise choice! 


Contributed in part by Karla S. Rugh, DVM, PhD 
Karla is a practicing veterinarian, consultant, and writer in Rocheport, Missouri. She has twice received the National Institutes of Health Research Service Award. 


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