Dog Mouth Warts: Oral Papillomatosis in Pups Explained (2023)

by Dr. Rebecca MacMillan

  • by Dr. Rebecca MacMillan

Nov 23, 2021

|

Updated: Jul 21, 22

Dog Mouth Warts: Oral Papillomatosis in Pups Explained (1)

Oral papillomatosis is a condition that usually affects young animals causing warty-looking growths around the mouth. Whilst unsightly, these warts are usually nothing to worry about, but we will explore the cause and their treatment in more detail in this article.

Severity:

Usually mild, rare cases can be more serious

Table of Contents

Key points

  • Oral papillomas are benign warts that can grow around the mouth of young dogs
  • They are caused by a virus spread by other infected dogs
  • Treatment is not usually required
  • These warts usually regress and disappear by themselves over time
  • They are not contagious to other animals or humans

Common in

Young dogs of any breed, as well as animals that are immunocompromised

Symptoms & types

Oral papillomas usually appear as grey or flesh-colored lumps around your dog’s lips or gums. These lumps are usually small and cauliflower-like in appearance, looking a bit irregular. Your dog may only have one single lump, or they could have multiple. As these masses affect the mucous membranes they may also be seen in other locations around your dog’s mouth such as the roof of the mouth, tongue, or back of the throat.

In some rare cases, these papillomas can besevereand extensive. When this occurs dog might have difficulty chewing and swallowing, or even breathing.

Most of the time warts are nothing to worry about. Warty growths around the mouth of a young dog are usually caused by an oral papillomavirus, and the lumps regress by themselves again.

Understanding the diagnostics

Diagnosis of an oral papilloma can usually be made from an examination by a veterinarian. That combined with the location of the wart and the dog’s age usually gives a reasonably reliable answer. However, in some cases, the appearance of the growth may not look like a classic papilloma and your vet may need to run some additional tests to be sure.

Removal of the lump under anesthetic can be performed, and the growth can be sent away for analysis (termed an ‘excisional biopsy’). This can give a more certain diagnosis in any cases that aren’t clear cut. However, bear in mind that most oral papillomas will shrink and disappear by themselves without the need for surgical removal.

Learning about the causes

The underlying cause of oral papillomatosis ispapillomaviruses. There are a variety ofdifferent virusesthat can affect dogs, but these are all canine-specific and are not contagious to other species (including humans).

The virus is infectious between dogs, however, and can be spread by direct dog-to-dog contact or through encountering the virus in the environment e.g. shared water bowls. The virus usually enters through small cuts or tiny areas of damage in the dog’s mucous membranes. After a few weeks, the growths start to become apparent, usually as warts on your dog’s lip or gums, but sometimes they might be seen on the skin too.

Oral papillomas are contagious and can spread by either direct contact with an infected dog or through touching items that an infected dog has touched with their mouths (like toys and food bowls).

Best treatment options

The underlying cause of oral papillomatosis ispapillomaviruses. There are a variety ofdifferent virusesthat can affect dogs, but these are all canine-specific and are not contagious to other species (including humans).

The virus is infectious between dogs, however, and can be spread by direct dog-to-dog contact or through encountering the virus in the environment e.g. shared water bowls. The virus usually enters through small cuts or tiny areas of damage in the dog’s mucous membranes. After a few weeks, the growths start to become apparent, usually as warts on your dog’s lip or gums, but sometimes they might be seen on the skin too.

(Video) Warts ( Papilloma ) in dogs| Puppy Series |10

In severe cases, the following treatment options might be considered:

  • Azithromycin, a type of antibiotic
  • Interferon, an anti-viral medication
  • Surgery to remove problematic lumps (or cryotherapy – freezing warts)
  • A canine oral papillomavirus vaccine developed in the US shows some good effects in certain cases.
  • Immunomodulating drugs (e.g levamisole and thiabendazole) may be helpful, but more research and evidence are needed.

As oral papillomavirus iscontagiousbetween dogs you should avoid your dog mixing with other young animals, where possible, to stop the spread whilst you wait for the lumps to regress. Keep a close eye on your dog’s mouth, in case there are any less obvious warts on the inside of it that are causing problems.

You can support your dog by making sure he is on a good-quality complete diet to ensure his immune system is getting all the nutrients it needs.

Conclusion

Oral papillomas are seen most commonly in younger dogs, appearing as fleshy warts. They are caused by a virus that is contagious between dogs. Most warts will regress and disappear again by themselves without the need for any treatment. However, you should always contact us for an examination if you have any concerns about your pet.

FAQ

Most of the time warts are nothing to worry about. Warty growths around the mouth of a young dog are usually caused by an oral papillomavirus, and the lumps regress by themselves again. A veterinarian will be able to advise you further so it is best to get your dog checked out if you are concerned. Older dogs may have other types of warty lump — these should be checked by a veterinarian.

If your dog has been diagnosed with oral papillomas, then these should regress and get better by themselves. You can support your dog by making sure he is on a good-quality complete diet to ensure his immune system is getting all the nutrients it needs. Other types of wart generally don’t need removing unless they are getting in your dog’s way. There are no safe home remedies for warts.

Oral papillomas are contagious and can spread by either direct contact with an infected dog or through touching items that an infected dog has touched with their mouths (like toys and food bowls). Dog warts are not contagious to people, however, and older dogs with a more established immune system are less likely to contract them.

Elderly dogs can suffer from warts as their immune system deteriorates or becomes compromised. Dogs with health conditions like certain types of cancer, or those that are on immunosuppressive medications, are more susceptible. Older dogs can also develop growths elsewhere on their body that look like warts. Though many of these other types of growth are benign, it’s best to get them checked by a veterinarian to confirm.

Dog Mouth Warts: Oral Papillomatosis in Pups Explained (2)

Dr. Rebecca MacMillan

Rebecca is a companion animal vet who has always had a passion for writing and client communication. Since her graduation from the Royal Veterinary college in 2009, she has gained a wealth of experience in first opinion small animal practice, in both clinical and managerial roles. She currently works in the South West and deals with a variety of routine and emergency appointments, but particularly enjoys medicine cases. Outside of work and writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her bouncy flat-coated retriever George!

(Video) Warts / Papilloma in Dogs - Discussion & Treatment
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FAQs

How did my dog get oral papilloma virus? ›

Oral papillomas are spread through dog-to-dog contact or by sharing dog toys that have been contaminated with the virus. Dogs acquire this disease usually between six months and two years of age, although some dogs can be as young as four months old when symptoms first develop.

How do you get rid of oral papillomas in dogs? ›

Surgical removal is the standard method of treatment for these tumors. Since they will also disappear spontaneously within a few months, surgical removal is recommended for diagnostic purposes (to ensure that the mass is a benign "wart"), or to treat a bleeding or infected growth.

Are puppy mouth warts contagious? ›

Oral papillomas occur relatively commonly in dogs, and usually affect dogs in puppyhood and as young adults. This virus is NOT contagious to people or to any other animals except dogs. If you get a wart, blame your human friends! Treatment of the warts usually consists of "benign neglect".

How long does oral papilloma last in dogs? ›

Most cases of canine oral papillomas go away on their own within 1-5 months as the affected dog's immune system matures and mounts a response to the virus. So while it's true that kissing can spread cooties, at least in the case of oral papillomas they typically resolve on their own.

How long do puppy warts last? ›

The warts themselves are not dangerous and 99% of the time they are non-cancerous. Generally warts disappear within six weeks. Most veterinarians will not prescribe antibiotics unless the warts have been present for more than six months and there are a great number of them in the mouth.

Do dog papillomas fall off? ›

Viral papillomas will dry up and fall off on their own, usually after several weeks to a month or two. These warts are not known to cause pain, discomfort or itching at all. Finally, and importantly, these are not contagious to humans, or other animals, but can be considered contagious to other dogs.

What causes warts on puppies? ›

How do dogs get warts? Warts, or canine papillomas, are caused by certain types of virus. Dogs contract the virus when they come into contact with another infected dog. Canine papilloma viruses can survive for extended periods in the environment and can therefore be spread on objects such as bedding or toys.

How fast do oral papillomas grow? ›

It usually appears as a single lesion that grows rapidly in a period of few months to a maximum of 1 cm in diameter (3). The most common sites are the soft palate, lips, tongue and gingiva, although any area of the oral cavity can be affected (1,2,4).

Is papilloma in dogs serious? ›

Symptoms of oral papilloma virus in dogs

The primary symptom of canine papilloma virus is the appearance of warts around the mouth. Fortunately, dog warts are benign, meaning they do not pose dangerous health risks and will not cause any discomfort unless they become infected.

Should oral papillomas be removed? ›

Oral squamous papilloma is a benign proliferating lesions characterized by painless growth. Its pathogenesis is related the HPV. Early diagnosis and surgical excision should be performed to avoid further complications.

Can dogs with papillomas be around other dogs? ›

The virus requires injured skin to establish infection; healthy skin will not be infected. The incubation period is 1-2 months. This virus can only be spread among dogs. It is not contagious to other pets or to humans and it appears not to be contagious after the lesion has regressed.

Do papillomas grow back in dogs? ›

In healthy animals, papillomas do not spread to other areas of the body and are usually cured by surgery. Rarely, a tumor will regrow after surgery. If the viral infection persists because of an impaired immune system, additional papillomas may develop.

How can I treat my dogs papilloma at home? ›

To use Vitamin E: Puncture a Vitamin E capsule. Apply the capsule contents directly to the papilloma. Apply twice a day, for two to three weeks until the papilloma has healed.

Is it normal for puppies to have warts? ›

Any dog can get warts, but they are more common in dogs who are immunosuppressed or spend a lot of time around other dogs. Young dogs frequently get warts in their mouths, while the skin of older dogs is more frequently affected. Certain breeds also seem to be at an increased risk of dog warts, including: Shar-Pei.

How are puppy warts spread? ›

Dog Wart Causes

The canine oral papillomavirus is highly contagious between dogs and transmitted via direct contact with warts on an infected dog, or through direct contact with the virus in the infected dog's environment.

Can dogs get oral papilloma twice? ›

Once dogs have had the virus, they usually have immunity, and won't succumb to the virus again. While oral papillomas tend to look worse than they usually are, you never want to assume that any growth on your dog is benign.

Can dog warts turn cancerous? ›

It's very rare for a wart to become cancerous over time, but it is possible if they grow deep into the layers of skin beneath them. Warts form due to a contagious virus to other dogs, though they are rarely life-threatening. Even if not dangerous, your pup might find these warts annoying and uncomfortable.

Is oral papilloma painful? ›

The type of HPV called HPV 16 causes most oral cancers related to HPV. Oral cancers tend to cause obvious symptoms, especially as they progress. Signs and symptoms of oral cancer include: a sore or painful bump that does not go away within 3 weeks.

When should I remove my dogs papilloma? ›

Treatment. Papillomas generally do not require medical treatment unless they become irritated, infected, or grow large enough to cause discomfort. In most cases, warts go away on their own within a month or two as the dog's immune system learns to fight the virus.

What is the difference between a wart and a papilloma? ›

Their differences merely reside in where you find these lesions. Warts are a lumpy, raised growth commonly found on the hands and feet. Sometimes a wart will be called a papilloma because they are caused by the human papillomavirus, and the benign growth has reached the skin's surface.

Is oral papilloma virus in dogs contagious? ›

CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS Canine oral papillomas are caused by a virus and are contagious from dog-to-dog. (They are not zoonotic; that is, they are not contagious from dogs to people or other animals.)

Can humans get papilloma from dogs? ›

Viral Papillomas in dogs are highly contagious to other dogs, but are also what is called "Zoonotic" which means that the virus can be spread to humans as well. If your dog shows signs of being infected with this virus, be sure to check with your veterinarian.

Is oral papilloma common in dogs? ›

Canine oral papilloma infection is a common disease in dogs.

Can papilloma virus in dogs be cured? ›

In healthy animals, papillomas do not spread to other areas of the body and are usually cured by surgery. Rarely, a tumor will regrow after surgery. If the viral infection persists because of an impaired immune system, additional papillomas may develop.

Do oral papillomas go away? ›

Most oral HPV infections go away on their own without treatment within 2 years and do not cause any health problems.

What kills the papilloma virus? ›

Options include freezing (cryosurgery), laser, surgical removal, loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) and cold knife conization.

Why do puppies get warts? ›

How do dogs get warts? Warts, or canine papillomas, are caused by certain types of virus. Dogs contract the virus when they come into contact with another infected dog. Canine papilloma viruses can survive for extended periods in the environment and can therefore be spread on objects such as bedding or toys.

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