Warts in dogs are also known as canine viral papillomas or canine viral papillomatosis. This is a relatively common occurrence in young pups. The immune system will often clear warts up as the puppy’s immune system strengthens with age. However, this is not always the case. Some dog warts will stick around for longer than they should, and some cases are more serious than others.
There are several instances in which warts may need to be removed. Examples include when they have been on the dog’s body for more than a couple of months or if warts become infected or irritated.
Warts may also need to be removed when your dog has a huge number of warts. This is also true if a dog has warts located in places that negatively impact the dog’s day-to-day life. Examples include in the dog’s mouth, or on their feet, or anywhere that interferes with any of the activities that a dog does throughout the course of a day. You want your dog to walk, eat, drink, play, sleep, and go potty without discomfort.
How to Remove a Wart on a Dog
All Available At-Home Treatments
Apple Cider Vinegar
This treatment option includes several steps, listed directly below. Note: This process will be pain-free initially, but that may change as the ACV deteriorates the wart. Over time, the dog might experience mild tingling and stinging sensations from the acid working to eliminate the growth. Therefore, you should never use apple cider vinegar on warts near a dog’s eyes or genitals.
How to Use this Method
1. Pour a little bit of apple cider vinegar into a clean cup.
2. Rub petroleum jelly onto the surface of all of the skin that surrounds the warts being treated to protect the dog's unaffected areas.
3. Get the dog to sit or lay down in a position that results in warts facing upward. Then, use a sterilized eyedropper to drop two to three drops of ACV on the top of each wart. Let the ACV sit on the wart to be absorbed, and use a clean paper towel to wipe off any excess that runs off of the affected area.
4. Keep the dog still by entertaining them with a fun toy, treat, or petting for 10 minutes. This allows the ACV to soak into warts fully; the dog can then return to its usual activities.
5. Repeat this process of applying ACV to a dog’s warts three to four times each day.
6. The top of the wart might fall off first, which can cause the ACV to sting the dog a bit. But it is important to continue applying the ACV three to four times a day. Continue doing so until the treatment has reached the root of warts. This will cause the entirety of the affected tissue to dry up and fall out of the dog’s skin, root, and all.
7. But first, as the root of the wart dries out, a blister or red spot will form on the dog’s skin where the wart root is. Dog owners must use a clean washcloth and clean the spot. Use warm water to clean the affected areas carefully, and then apply coconut oil to each blister or red spot. Do this once a day until they have healed. Coconut oil has natural anti-fungal compounds that work to heal and regenerate skin cells.
This is a supplement for dogs comprised of medicinal mushrooms, which have beta-glucans in them that are known to have antitumor and anti-inflammatory effects. Additionally, this supplement can help to promote a dog’s immune system strength. That can result in the dog’s immune system being better able to fight off the virus causing their warts.
This vegetable oil, which you can commonly find at many drug and grocery stores, can be applied topically to a dog’s warts. Use sterilized fingers or cotton swabs, one time per day, every one to two days until warts begins to disappear. Administering this treatment directly to a dog’s warts will soften warts, significantly decreasing the irritation and itchiness caused by warts. That helps to prevent the dog from scratching and digging at warts and breaking them open. This is important, as that would make them worse and slow down or prevent the healing process.
This is an antioxidant supplement that you can give to a dog to help boost its immune system. That, in turn, allows it to be better able to fight off the papillomavirus that is causing warts.
Immune System Boost
Warts in dogs can appear due to a compromised or weakened immune system. Therefore, a dog’s warts may go away if you can improve its immune system. You can do so by administering vitamins and other forms of immunity-boosting supplements to the dog. One supplement that you can give to dogs for this purpose is appropriately named “Immunosupport.” It is made using arabinogalactans, lutein, and shitake mushrooms, all of which are immunity-boosting ingredients.
This treatment comes in the form of a 500 mg pill. It would be best if you gave it to a dog that has warts twice each day until warts have disappeared.
This supplement is made using platinum and sulfur, and thuja (which is a treatment that is discussed in greater detail directly below). All three ingredients in this supplement are anti-viral and can help a dog’s immune system fight off warts.
This homeopathic treatment that comes from a tree is considered to be safe for most dogs. It is given to a dog orally, once each day for one week. Thuja is available in liquid and pellet form. In pellet form, you must give a dog six to ten pellets. They must sit in the dog’s mouth (not be immediately swallowed) to be absorbed through the mucus membranes 20 minutes before a meal.
Dog owners only need to give this treatment to their dogs for one week, then wait two weeks to see if it starts to clear up the dog’s warts. If it has not, a second dose can be administered. Note: Do not give this treatment to dogs who are or could be pregnant, as it can result in a pregnancy loss.
For this treatment method, use a sterile knife or needle to pierce a small hole in any regular vitamin E capsule. Then, apply the contents of the vitamin E capsule directly to the dog’s warts using sterilized fingers or a cotton swab. This procedure should be done three to four times a day, spaced out throughout the day, for two to three weeks or until the dog’s warts are cleared up.
Other Dog Wart Treatments
(Administered by a Vet)
Specifically, antibiotic named azithromycin is popular. It was shown to be an effective treatment for canine warts in a scientific research study. The dogs received it once a day for up to 10 to 15 consecutive days.
This is an antacid medication that you can give to dogs orally. It is believed to positively impact a dog’s immune system, encouraging it to better fight off the papillomavirus.
Crushing the Warts
This is also known as autogenous vaccination. Crushing a few of a dog’s warts can clear up the papillomavirus strain that the dog has by releasing particles of the virus into the dog’s system. This triggers their immune system to respond and fight off the virus.
This method utilizes a special tool that produces frigid temperatures to freeze the wart(s). It destroys the affected tissue, causing warts to shrink drastically and will eventually disappear altogether. This surgery is performed while a dog is under local anesthesia, so you don’t have to worry about your dog going all the way under.
With this wart removal method, also called electrosurgery, a licensed veterinarian uses a tool that produces a small and concentrated amount of electricity. When applied to the wart, the tool will burn off the contaminated tissue, effectively removing warts from the dog’s skin. This surgery is also performed while a dog is under local anesthesia, so you don’t have to worry about your dog going all the way under.
This is the oldest, longest-used form of treatment for dog warts in the books. A veterinarian performs surgery to entirely cut off all of the infected tissue of each wart, using a medical scalpel to remove all of a dog’s warts physically. However, the surgical excision of warts requires a dog to be put all the way under general anesthesia, which is more risky and costly.
This is an antiviral and antitumor treatment that you can administer to a dog’s warts topically. It has been shown to speed up the rate of wart suppression in some strains of the canine papillomavirus.
This medication can be given to dogs either orally or via an injection to stimulate their immune system.
This medication is made using a chemical compound that is procured from white blood cells. It is commonly used for more severe warts and/or warts that do not respond to other treatments. A veterinarian will commonly inject this drug into a dog multiple times a week for up to 8 weeks. Or, they might teach a dog’s owner how to administer the injection to their dog on their own, at home.
This drug helps prevent your dog from having to have surgery for severe cases of warts. But it can cause negative side effects in dogs, such as fever and loss of appetite.
This option is usually used if a dog has difficulty treating warts that do not respond to other treatment options.
Because this option removes warts at their roots, laser ablation is commonly the most effective form of treatment for completely removing difficult to treat warts. It is also the most effective at keeping them from returning by removing every part of the wart from its roots. However, this treatment also requires a dog to be knocked all the way out using general anesthesia, making this a more risky and costly option, as well.
If your dog is taking any immunosuppressing medications, discontinue or reduce the use of these drugs in dogs suffering from warts. This allows the dog’s immune system to be better able to fight off the infection.
Common Questions About Dog Warts
What are dog warts?
Dog warts, also called papillomas, develop in different areas of a dog’s body. They come in varying shapes, sizes, and numbers. They are due to the dog becoming infected with any one of the various strains of canine papillomavirus, called canine viral papillomatosis.
What causes dog warts?
Contracting a papillomavirus infection is what causes warts in dogs. Dogs contract the papillomavirus from other dogs who have it via an opening, break, or weakness in their skin.
The papillomavirus is quite strong and can survive in even less than optimal environments for extended periods of time (up to multiple weeks). This makes it possible for dogs to pick up the papillomavirus in a wide variety of locations that dogs frequent. This is true even weeks after an infected dog left behind the virus.
Are there different types of dog warts?
Yes. Different types of canine papillomavirus that cause different types of warts in dogs have been discovered. Each papillomavirus presents itself differently, causing a distinct form of the disease and varying ways in which canine warts look.
Warts will also develop on different areas of the dog’s body depending on which specific canine papillomavirus the dog has contracted. For instance, the most common types of dog warts will only affect a dog’s mouth. Different strains will only affect a dog’s feet (known as Digital Papillomas), so on and so forth, based upon which virus the dog has.
Dog warts look like the head of cauliflower, in general. But some versions of dog warts that are less common can be inverted warts that are commonly comprised of a firm lump with an inverted dot in the middle (called Cutaneous Inverted Papillomas and/or Endophytic Warts). Some other rare types of dog warts can present as dark, scaly plaques of skin with an irregular surface (called Papillomavirus Pigmented Plaques).
How do you know if a dog has papillomavirus?
Unfortunately, a dog owner won’t know that their dog has contracted papillomavirus for a month or two after they contracted it. That is how long it takes for the only visible signs of this condition, warts, to appear.
Some dogs will only have a few warts, and some dogs with the same strain of papillomavirus will have entire portions of their body covered in dense warts. Each dog is impacted differently, likely based upon the strength of their immune system when they contract the virus.
Any dog can get become infected with canine papillomavirus. However, it is more commonly seen in young pups whose immune systems are still developing. It is also more common in older dogs with compromised immune systems. Another at-risk category is dogs suffering from an illness that suppresses their immune system, making them more susceptible to contracting the papillomavirus.
Can dog warts be spread to humans?
No. Dog warts are not contagious from dogs to humans, and therefore a dog’s warts cannot be spread to a human.
Can dog warts be spread to other dogs?
Yes. Dog warts are highly contagious between dogs, and a dog’s warts can easily be spread to other dogs.
Dog warts cannot be transmitted to any other animals. A dog can only spread it to another dog. Once a dog has contracted a specific strain of the canine papillomavirus, the dog becomes immune to contracting that particular type of dog warts again. Importantly, it is not immune to any of the other different strains of the canine papillomavirus.
What are the best ways to prevent dog warts from spreading?
- If you see that a dog has warts anywhere on its body, do not let your dog play with that dog. Do not let him use any toys, equipment, or bowls that the dog who has warts has used.
- If your dog’s skin is damaged or compromised in any way, whether it be a minor scratch or deep abrasion, keep your dog away from any areas that other dogs visit or play. These include dog parks, doggy daycare, groomers, boarders, pet stores, etc. This prevents any papillomavirus from entering the dog’s system through their weakened skin.
- If your dog has warts of any kind on any area of its body, keep the dog away from other dogs. Also, keep them away from all areas that other dogs visit and play with until all warts have fully cleared up on their own or have been treated and cleared up by you and/or your veterinarian.
- Feed your dog a natural, well-balanced, high-quality diet (homemade, human-grade foods are best). If needed, add additional supplements and immune boosters always to ensure that your dog is in optimal health. This will, in turn, cause their immune system to be strong enough to fight off most viruses, including canine papillomavirus, on its own.
- Never over-vaccinate your dog. Too many vaccinations will compromise a dog’s immune system, making it much more difficult for the dog to fight off viruses. That includes those that cause warts. Talk to a holistic veterinarian to learn more about this topic and what you can do to prevent over-vaccination.
Summary of the best ways to prevent warts
In conclusion, visible warts caused by canine papillomavirus commonly take a month or two to show up after the dog has been infected with the virus. This allows much opportunity for a dog who has papillomavirus to spread the virus around to many locations from which other dogs could pick the virus up. This occurs long before their owners even know the dog has papillomavirus.
The best way to prevent a dog from contracting this disorder is always to keep your dog in tip-top shape. Combine that with observing other dogs for any signs of warts. Also, practice great hygiene and healthy habits with your dog while in your home, yard, and anywhere you and your dog may roam.
How Can I Get Rid of My Dog's Warts?
Your vet can go over the various dog wart removal options with you. If there is only one wart or just a few, your vet will likely want to remove it surgically.
How Can I Treat My Dog's Warts at Home?
You can use apple cider vinegar, castor oil, or any other home remedies mentioned above to remove a dog wart at home.
Just keep an eye on the wart and the area. You want to make sure that you successfully removed it and did not cause any other issues. You also want to confirm it is the only dog wart.
If you notice a dog wart bleeding, then take your pup to the vet. He can confirm that nothing is wrong and take care of the dog wart removal in a way that doesn't hurt your dog or worsen the bleeding.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Wart from a Dog?
The cost of dog wart removal varies a lot. It is usually somewhere between $300 and $1,000 for surgical removal. The average cost is usually about $400 to $600. If your dog has many warts, however, or the situation is more complicated, it can be up to $2,500. This is rare.
It is also worth noting that these are the prices for dog wart removal surgery. If your vet suggests a medication or home remedy, the cost can be a lot lower.
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