It is often assumed that warts are an infection affecting only humans. These warts may also make an appearance in dogs. You may observe small, round skin growths near the mouth of the dog. Young pups are more prone to these warts and they appear as patches of cauliflower on them. In older dogs, these warts have an irregular surface. These warts are caused by a virus infection. However, it is always better to get a veterinarian examine the dog and confirm these warts are viral bumps and not some kind of skin tumor.
How do These Warts Appear?
Canine viral papillomavirus causes these warts on dogs. These warts appear like a cauliflower head or irregularly shaped bumps on the muzzle or near the lips, gums and throat of the dog. These warts may look like finger-like projections or appear like a stalk of mushroom. Warts on dogs may appear in groups or as a solitary projection. These warts are generally harmless and will disappear in a few months or so. If these oral warts start growing in size or become ulcerated, they need veterinarian examination. He may send a tissue same for biopsy and see if there are any cancerous tumors present. Malignant melanoma may be indicated if they appear black in color and grow on the eyelids or lips of the dog.
There are different types of papilloma viruses that infect different sites in a dog's body. A canine mucous membrane papillomatosis generally affects puppies and young dogs. It causes multiple warts on the lips, esophagus as well as the conjunctival mucous membranes. In case of cutaneous papillomas, they appear as solitary warts, generally in older dogs. It is difficult to differentiate between mucous membrane warts and cutaneous warts. Lastly, cutaneous inverted papillomas that affects young and mature dogs. It appears near the ventral abdomen as raised papulonodules. These viral papillomas may progress into cancerous lesions.
How Does a Dog Get Infected with Canine Papillomavirus?
The virus is transmitted only by direct contact. When a healthy dog comes in contact with an infected dog, s/he can get infected. It has been found, puppies under the age of 2 years are more susceptible to these viruses, due to their immature immune system. The incubation period of the virus after entering a dog's body is about a month or two. The canine papillomavirus is contagious, but only to dogs. It does not spread from dogs to humans or other pets as well.
Are Oral Warts Dangerous?
They are not a dangerous infection in most cases. It does not cause any kind of health problem or issue with the dog. There are less than 2% cases where the warts turned into malignant tumors. Sometimes, the dog may develop a secondary bacterial infection on these warts. This causes the warts to turn red, big and swollen. In this case, antibiotics will be required to get rid of the infection.
Is There Any Treatment for Canine Papillomavirus?
All one needs to do, is wait for the warts to resolve on their own. The dog's own immune system will take care of the virus. These warts may sometimes increase in size as well as number. This causes problems, especially when they are present near the nose, inside the throat, etc. It may lead to breathing and swallowing problems. In such cases, the veterinarian may advice removal of the warts surgically or by freezing cryogenically. Sometimes, interferon injections are advised to dogs with a severe infection.
They do not require any form of treatment and resolve on their own. Speak to a veterinarian for more details if you find these ugly warts on your pet.