Warts, also called papillomas or fibropapillomas, are species-specific, benign, painless skin growths caused by papilloma viruses. Warts in dogs are commonly called as Canine Warts.
Dog warts are developed very commonly. Mainly we can see warts on dogs face and warts on dogs back, on or around the eyes, eyelids, gums, feet, footpads and external genitalia. Papilloma viruses are extremely contagious between dogs. Fortunately, they aren’t contagious between other pets and humans. Warts that grow in a dog’s mouth can cause an ugly look, discomfort, drooling, bad breath and interfere with a dog’s ability to grab, chew and swallow normally. Warts on the skin often show up on the lower legs and feet, especially on the footpads and between the toes. These can be annoying to the dog and cause it to lick and chew at the affected area, which can lead to bleeding, pain and lameness. This may cause or leads to various skin infections.
Why my dog gets warts?
Dog warts are caused due to palliloma virus. Warts, also called as papillomas or fibropapillomas, are species-specific, usually benign external growths that are caused by a number of different double-stranded DNA viruses in the family Papillomaviridae.
- Dog warts are contagious and can spread in between the dogs.
- In domestic dogs, warts commonly show up on the skin called as cutaneous papillomas and in the mouth called as oral cavity papillomas.
- Warts on dogs face and warts on dogs back are most commonly seen and highlited. Along this dog warts can also be noticed on eyelids, face, feet and footpads and on the external genitalia.
- Certain breeds seem to have a genetic predisposition to developing warts.
- Dogs that are on long-term corticosteroid therapy often have weakened immune systems, which cause them to become immune compromised and more susceptible to contracting contagious diseases.
- Young puppies also are immune compromised and are more likely to develop warts than are mature animals because of their naïve immune systems.
- Pappiloma virus typically requires inoculation through a break in the skin or mucosa, which normally happens when one dog comes into direct contact with wart lesions on an infected dog.
- These viruses are relatively stable in the environment and can also be transmitted indirectly, such as through contact with contaminated grooming tools, veterinary instruments or other non-living items that carry the viral organisms; these are called “fomites.” Fortunately, the wart viruses that affect dogs are not contagious to cats or to people.
The incubation period for canine papilloma viruses is usually 1 to 8 weeks from contact with an infected dog. The warts may spontaneously regress several months, but sometimes they will persist for years.
Symptoms of Warts:
Warts can develop anywhere on a dog’s body and frequently show up in the mouth, on the face, around the eyes and on the feet and lower limbs. The sign and symptoms are following:
Diagnosis of warts
- Raised lumps or bumps on the skin, especially on the feet and face, in the mouth and around the eyes.
- Warts may be rough and pedunculated, with multiple frond-like attachments to the skin or mucosa, resembling tiny cauliflowers.
- May be isolated/solitary
- May occur in clusters
- May start and stay small
- May increase in size and number
- May or may not bleed or be irritated by self-trauma from scratching or chewing
- Older dogs tend to develop isolated warts, commonly on the feet, around the toes and footpads and on the under-belly
- Younger dogs typically develop warts in clusters, often inside the mouth, around the eyes and elsewhere on the face or genitalia. Puppies are especially prone to developing warts, because they have naïve immune systems and enjoy licking and romping rambunctiously with other canine playmates.
- Warts are usually painless and generally do not require treatment for medical reasons.
- Occasionally, warts can transition to malignant squamous cell carcinoma, although this is rare. Most warts in dogs regress spontaneously within one year.
- Biopsy samples of suspicious masses can easily be taken and submitted to a pathology laboratory for detailed immune histochemical examination, to identify the particular papilloma virus that caused the condition.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing can also be used to diagnose cutaneous papillomas.
- Electron microscopy is considered to be the gold standard for diagnosing canine warts. However, it is used primarily for research and publication purposes rather than for clinical diagnosis of warts in companion dogs
How Can I prevent My Dog From Warts?
There is no fool proof way to prevent dogs from developing warts. Dogs with warts on their skin or in their mouth should be kept away from susceptible dogs, because the viruses that cause warts are quite contagious. Chronic use of corticosteroids should only be done when absolutely necessary, because long-term steroid use weakens the immune system and reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. A canine papilloma virus vaccine is under development and shows promise.
Dog warts treatment:
Generally if the dog warts are not troubling the dog, they just need the management with oral medication and prevention. But if the dog warts are annoying the owner , there may be option for surgical excision, cryosurgery, laser ablation and electrocautery. These procedures may take place in localized anesthesia or may be in general anaesthesia if required. Dog warts treatment is also required immediately if they are painful and troubling the dog.