Help! My Dog Has A Wart

How to get rid of this viral infection.

dog warts

It can be really upsetting to see a wart on your dog. Depending on where it is, a dog wart can also be super uncomfortable for him!

While not life-threatening in most cases, a visit to your vet may be necessary to determine how to get rid of the growth if it doesn’t go away on its own.

For more insight on dog warts, why they occur and the best treatment options, we spoke to Dr. Hilary Jones, a veterinarian with DodoVet, and Dr. Fiona Lee, a veterinary dermatologist with Pet Dermatology Center.

Why dog warts occur

Warts are pretty uncommon for pups. A wart will appear on your dog when he contracts a viral infection called canine papilloma virus, or papillomavirus.

“The virus that causes warts is contagious,” Dr. Jones told The Dodo. “It can be passed from dog to dog, from direct contact with an infected dog, or from contact with the infected dog’s environment (bedding, food bowls, toys, etc.).”

Most dogs will be exposed to papillomavirus at some point in their lives. Some dogs will carry the virus and show no symptoms of warts. Other pups will get warts but are able to resolve the infection on their own within weeks to months as their immune system develops immunity to the virus (although not the most pleasant image, the wart will simply fall off on its own).

“In dogs, there are at least seven virus strains, which can affect different locations (examples include inside the mouth, on skin, eyelids, genital area and footpads), and they will have different appearances (typical cauliflower-looking wart, invert cup-like, pigmented and flat, etc.),” Dr. Lee told The Dodo.

When to be concerned about dog warts

Your dog’s immune system is a key factor when it comes to whether or not he’ll get warts.

“Puppies with immature immune systems and dogs undergoing chemotherapy, for example, will have a suppressed immune system and are more prone to warts,” Dr. Lee said.

With a weak immune system, papillomas may not shrink and can cause additional problems like secondary infections and discomfort. And just like in humans, some papillomavirus lesions can turn into cancer.

Diagnosing and treating dog warts

The best way to diagnose any skin mass is via histopathology, which examines a biopsy on a glass slide under a microscope.

“In general, for any skin mass, if it's growing quickly, changing, bleeding (eroded/ulcerated), becoming infected or bothering the patient, then it should ideally be biopsied and submitted for histopathology,” Dr. Lee said. “For complicated biopsy diagnoses, it is recommended to submit to a dermatopathologist.”

As mentioned above, in most cases, dog warts will resolve on their own over a couple of months as the immune system develops immunity to the virus. But if the tumor persists or becomes uncomfortable for your pup, it may need to be surgically removed.

While patience may be what’s most needed when it comes to dealing with your dog’s wart, be sure to reach out to your veterinarian if it isn’t going away or if the growth is changing — further diagnosis may be needed. Here’s to getting your pup feeling back to normal in no time!

Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.