Viral Papilloma Average Cost

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Average Cost


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What is Viral Papilloma?

Viral papillomas, or oral warts, are small, benign skin tumors typically found on the lips, mouths and muzzles of canines. Though some papillomas may have a smooth appearance, most often you will notice a distinct cauliflower or sea anemone type of appearance to the wart. You may observe a single papilloma, or more likely, the virus will lead to clusters of hundreds to thousands. While most viral papillomas are found in the mouth region, appearing on the lips, tongue, roof of the mouth, or inside the cheeks, they may occasionally grow between toes or on the eyelid. Unless the sores, become infected, they will not cause the canine discomfort. However, if the sores become infected by bacteria in the mouth, the dog will likely feel pain due to swelling. In this case, antibiotics may be indicated.

Papillomas are bunches of abnormal cells caused by Canine Papillomavirus Type 1, a contagious DNA virus.  The virus typically affects three groups of dogs: young dogs and puppies, typically less than two years of age; dogs with immune-disorders or an acute immune suppression and older dogs who accumulate warts as they age. In healthy dogs, papillomas will typically resolve themselves within 2-3 months. The good news is that once the dogs has had the virus, they will develop an immunity and likely not experience the condition again.

One of the most common questions about viral papillomas is whether an infected dog poses a risk to adults, children, or other animals. It is important to note that this virus is not transferrable to humans or other species, and can only be passed canine to canine. The infection is present within the lesions, and thus can be passed mouth to mouth between dogs, both in and outside the household. Shared bowls and toys are usually culprits, but also typical play behavior. Viral papillomas have an incubation period of 1-2 months. If your dog has oral papillomas, he or she may have been infected some time ago. 

Finally, as with all canine health conditions, there is no substitution for a professional diagnosis. Any lump or growth appearing on a canine’s skin may be indicative of another condition. If concerned, make an appointment for a check-up with your dog’s veterinarian.

Viral papillomas are small, contagious cauliflower-shaped tumors typically found in and around the mouth. They are benign, and usually resolve without treatment.

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Symptoms of Viral Papilloma in Dogs

  • Presence of the papillomas
  • Bad breath
  • Swelling in/around mouth
  • Change in eating due to discomfort

Causes of Viral Papilloma in Dogs

The canine papillomavirus type I develops due to:

  • Compromised immune system
  • Long term corticosteroid treatment
  • Genetic immune weakness
  • Specific age (puppies and young dogs under 2 & elderly dogs)

It is contagious between dogs only.  It is often transmitted by mouth through play and through shared bowls and toys.

Diagnosis of Viral Papilloma in Dogs

Diagnosis of viral papillomas is usually done by sight. The clusters of cauliflower type sores are highly recognizable due to their distinct appearance. The papillomas are usually found in and around the mouth, so should be observable in those locations. In some instances, they may bleed and cause swelling. Behavioral changes may be noticed if the sores are painful enough to inhibit eating. 

Your dog will likely be asymptomatic unless the sores become infected by bacteria in the mouth. If that occurs, the dog will need antibiotic treatment.

Treatment of Viral Papilloma in Dogs

Treatment for this condition is usually conducted in an outpatient setting. However, if the condition becomes severe and is not resolving on its own, surgery may be warranted.

Outpatient treatment

It’s important to watch the sores and see if they begin to bleed, if they increase greatly in size, or appear to cause your dog discomfort. As the immune system improves, a response will mount and likely resolve the infection.  Most papillomas will resolve themselves, and disappear within 3 months. If a healthy immune response occurs, your dog will likely not have the virus again.

Inpatient Treatment

Some dogs, especially if the sores are particularly large, may benefit from surgery. The veterinarian will remove the sores, and may culture to ensure there is no malignancy. Medication, if warranted, may be given for pain and swelling caused by a bacterial infection.

Interferon-alpha treatments are another option, but are expensive. These treatments help to stimulate an immune response to your the dog of the papillomas. Treatments occur two to three times a week.

Recovery of Viral Papilloma in Dogs

In healthy dogs, viral papilloma virus results in small, benign mouth sores. The sores will usually recede within 2-3 months, and most dogs will develop an immunity that will protect them from future outbreaks. If your dog has papillomas, it is important to limit contact with other dogs.  Since the virus is contagious between canines, shared bowls and toys, and mouth to mouth play must be avoided.

Viral Papilloma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

German Shepherd
2 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

4 papilloma warts in tongue

We started my dog on Azithromycin about a week ago to see if it would help resolve a single papilloma wart about the size of a pencil eraser on my dog’s tongue that he’s had since March 1. Over the course of this past week he’s since developed 3 more warts (2 more on his tongue and 1 on his lower lip). Should I be concerned that he’s developing more warts since starting the antibiotic treatment?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
It is not unusual for other papillomas to appear but by day seven or eight you should be seeing some improvement. If there are still papillomas present after another week or so return to your Veterinarian for review. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


Our Dog had a papilloma on his lip and we saw the vet and he said they could not diagnosis anything for sure. He stated it may be contagious so we are keeping him away from other dogs. Now it has grown in size and somewhat split. Is this normal or should we see the vet again?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Viral papilloma is contagious and any dog with a viral papilloma should be segregated from other dogs for up to 60 days after the papilloma disappears; if the suspected papilloma is growing in size or is splitting open, you should return to your Veterinarian to discuss having it biopsied or removed (either surgically or with cryosurgery). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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2 years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

red eyes

So my dog has had one of these for awhile. Today it burst open and now he's acting very strange. His eyes are really red and he's acting somewhat lethargic. I dont know if I Should I be concerned or not?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Any lesion or mass that has ruptured needs to be at a minimum bathed regularly and if bleeding continuously needs to be seen by your Veterinarian; a dilute antiseptic is usually sufficient but in some cases antibiotic treatment may be required. If it is bleeding, then a visit to your Veterinarian would be required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

What other diseases present similar syptoms as oral canine papillomatosis?

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Great dane
17 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


My dog has copv from last 6 months now after adding few supplements I see the warts has white parts means some areas on the top of papilloma has cut blood supplies is it how it starts to go off?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations

Generally the lifespan of warts caused by canine oral papillomavirus are usually self-limiting and usually regress after five to six months. Surgical removal and cryotherapy are used for removal, but they are usually left alone. Azithromycin has had positive results in the treatment of COPV, see link below. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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