How to treat your dog’s viral papillomas (Warts)

Canine papilloma virus

The canine papilloma virus (also called papillomavirus or CPV) causes generally harmless warts, called viral papillomas, to appear inside your dog’s mouth and on his body. According to Vetinfo, CPV attacks dogs with weakened immune systems. Any dog can become infected with this virus, but it more frequently occurs in dogs younger than 2 years old and senior dogs. Adult dogs that are exposed to the papilloma virus are usually able to fight it off without warts appearing.

What are the Symptoms of Canine Papilloma Virus?

The appearance of warts is the main indicator that your dog has canine papilloma virus. “Viral papillomas are round, but often have a rough, almost jagged surface – like a cauliflower,” notes the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. Warts can pop up in a variety of sizes. They most often occur in clusters, although there may be individual warts. “Most commonly, the warts occur around the eyes, in the mouth or other mucous membranes,” says Vetinfo. notes that the warts “may ulcerate or bleed, and the type that grows inward may be painful, particularly if they are on the feet.”

How is Canine Papilloma Virus Diagnosed?

If you notice a wart on your dog’s skin, take him to a veterinarian to have it examined. Your vet will be able to tell you if the wart is caused by CPV or whether it is another type of growth. “Your veterinarian may make an initial diagnosis based on the appearance of the lesion, but a skin biopsy is needed for confirmation,” notes Webvet. Vetinfo adds, “Your veterinarian may do tests to rule out sebaceous gland tumors or a malignancy. Standard tests in these cases included CBC (complete blood count), urinalysis, biochemical profile and biopsy of the growth.”

How are Viral Pillomas Treated?

Your dog’s immune system can usually fight off CPV, with warts disappearing within one to five months. Some of the warts may remain permanently, but they are usually harmless. “Occasionally, oral papillomas can become infected with bacteria,” Perdue University notes. “Antibiotics will be needed in these cases to control the pain, swelling and bad breath.” adds that preventing your dog “from scratching, licking, or biting the wart will reduce itching, inflammation, ulceration, infection and bleeding.

Any ulcerated area should be kept clean.” According to, if the warts interfere with your dog’s ability to eat or breathe, or if they bleed or become infected, surgery may be required, or the warts may be frozen off cryogenically. There are several ways to help a dog with CPV. Your vet may prescribe anti-viral medication if your dog has warts in his mouth or throat. For external warts, your vet may recommend using a topical, over-the-counter wart remover made for humans.

Can Canine Papilloma Virus Be Prevented?

CPV is contagious (but not to humans). Your dog can become infected through direct contact with another dog. “They enter your pet’s body through cuts, scrapes, insect bites or areas of inflammation,” says Webvet. Vetinfo warns that if you have other dogs, you should isolate the infected dog for one to two months. It’s especially important to keep your infected dog away from puppies and senior dogs. Since CPV is a viral infection, it is important to strengthen your dog’s immune system. Vitamins A and E, along with green tea, are powerful, natural antioxidants that help your dog fight off infections.

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