Understanding and Preventing Papillomas in Dogs


Papillomas in dogs, also referred to as dog warts, are non-cancerous growths that can occur suddenly on any part of the body, such as dog warts on the back due to viral infections. These benign tumors may manifest as multiple lesions and typically vanish on their own as the host develops immunity. In certain cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove papillomas if they become inflamed, infected, or if regression does not occur naturally. In terms of papillomavirus in animals, it’s known to be a rare occurrence in felines, but it is more prevalent in canines.

What causes warts on dogs?

Dogs get warts when papillomaviruses integrate their genetic material into the host cell’s DNA, disrupting the usual processes of cell division. This disturbance leads to abnormal and more frequent cell division. The virus triggers the activation of oncogenes, which are genes promoting growth, while simultaneously deactivating suppressor genes. These suppressor genes would typically restrict cell proliferation. Furthermore, the virus alters genes responsible for regulating normal, programmed cell death.

Papillomaviruses exhibit a diverse range, with various types existing in all animal species, including humans. Each species hosts its own unique set of viruses, each associated with specific tumors. One notable example is the occurrence of plantar warts on human feet.

How do dogs get warts?

Your canine companion has fallen victim to one of the papillomaviruses. While animals and humans commonly harbor various viruses asymptomatically, displaying no apparent clinical signs, pets with underdeveloped immune systems, such as young dogs and puppies, or those with compromised immunity, are more susceptible to the formation of papilloma warts.

Papillomaviruses exhibit remarkable resilience to adverse conditions, enduring for extended periods in the environment. The transmission of the virus occurs through direct contact with an infected pet or exposure to the pet’s surroundings, including items like toys, food and water bowls, and bedding. Subsequently, the virus gains entry into the body through moist skin, cuts, abrasions, or even via an insect bite, such as those from fleas, mosquitoes, or ticks.

What are the signs of papillomas in dogs?

Papillomas can manifest in various forms, including multiple oral papillomas in young dogs, singular cutaneous (skin) papillomas across dogs of all ages, venereal (genital) papillomas, as well as eyelid or conjunctival papillomas, and fibropapillomas within tissues such as muscle. Different viruses are linked to specific locations and can affect both young and older animals.

The lesions typically present as inflamed polyps resembling warts, though they may also be flat, exhibit scaly plaques, or manifest as inward-growing hard masses. Some papillomas may ulcerate, leading to breakage and bleeding. When growth occurs inward, it can result in pain, especially if located on the feet; in dogs, these tumors are most frequently found on the feet or in and around the oral cavity.

Treatment options for papilloma wart tumors on a dog

Papillomas may naturally regress in one to two months if the animal’s immunity kicks in. However, persistent tumors may occur in some dogs, requiring surgical removal as the standard treatment. In felines, papillomaviruses are linked to specific cancers like squamous cell carcinoma, leading to the recommendation of surgical intervention.

In humans, successful treatment of papillomavirus lesions has been achieved using a topical immune-modifying agent that stimulates interferon production—a natural supporter of the immune system. Veterinarians may also prescribe this agent for pets dealing with similar growths.

For viral papillomas, the oral antibiotic azithromycin is occasionally employed, showing generally positive outcomes in treating these conditions.

Does my dog need ay special treatment?

To safeguard your pet’s well-being, it’s crucial to deter them from rubbing, scratching, licking, or biting the papillomas. These actions can lead to inflammation, ulceration, infection, and bleeding. Particularly, any ulcerated area should be diligently cleaned to maintain hygiene.

Following surgery, meticulous care is necessary to keep the incision site clean and dry. It’s important to prevent your pet from engaging in behaviors like rubbing, licking, biting, or scratching at the surgical site. Promptly inform your veterinarian of any issues such as loss of sutures, significant swelling, or bleeding. If you need further guidance on post-surgical care, do not hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian.

Can papillomas be transmitted to humans?

While this tumor is infectious, rest assured that the viruses responsible are specific to each species and cannot be transmitted to humans. It’s important to note that the tumors found in dogs, cats, and humans are entirely unrelated and do not have the ability to cross species boundaries. However, it’s crucial to be aware that these viruses can be transmitted among dogs. To safeguard against the spread of the virus, it’s advised to keep your dog separated from other dogs until the papilloma has completely disappeared.

Ensuring the isolation of your dog during this period is a key preventive measure. By maintaining this separation, you contribute significantly to preventing the transmission of the virus to other dogs in the vicinity. This responsible action not only protects other pets but also aids in the overall containment of the infectious agent. Always prioritize the well-being of your furry friend and the community of dogs they interact with.

Safeguard your pet’s health

Protect your canine companion from papillomas by staying informed and taking proactive measures. If you notice any signs of warts, act promptly to prevent further complications. Keep your dog away from infected areas and seek veterinary advice for proper diagnosis and treatment. Practice good hygiene, especially after surgery, and closely monitor your pet’s behavior. Remember, responsible pet ownership ensures not only your dog’s well-being but also contributes to the collective health of our furry companions.


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