Your dog probably looks really cuddly and cute, a bit like you probably were once! But surely dogs cannot get the same cosmetic ailments we can? Take warts for example. Warts can be caused a virus that causes skin and mucous membrane eruptions. While on the whole they are fairly harmless, they can cause discomfort and there is also the risk of complications. One such complication is the development of skin cancer, highlighting the need to take extra caution when handling warts. But what about your dog, can they get warts too?
People may think, because dogs have thick hair and a coat, that they can’t get warts, but they absolutely can! The papillomavirus is actually a highly contagious viral infection that can be spread amongst dogs, so understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for warts is highly advisable.
As you can probably imagine, spotting the symptoms of warts is fairly straightforward. Does your dog have small skin growths, usually found around the mouth, eyes, nose, tongue, legs, footpads or groin? Does the skin look a mixture of white and red, or has it developed into a browner color? All of these could be strong indicators that your dog has warts.
What causes canine warts, though? Warts are the result of a specific, highly contagious viral infection spread between dogs. They can be transmitted via direct contact with contaminated dogs, or objects like beds, food, and toys. If your dog has recently been in kennels or densely canine-populated areas, there is a greater chance they have contracted the virus.
If you are concerned your dog has warts, how will the vet confirm the diagnosis? The vet will undertake a physical examination of the problem area and they will also conduct an oral examination, to ensure warts are not hindering your dog’s eating or breathing. Your vet may also want to take a scraping or biopsy to confirm the presence of the virus.
Treatment for warts is only usually given when the condition is affecting your dog’s ability to breathe, eat, or see. So the likelihood is your vet will suggest leaving the virus to run its course, otherwise known as ‘benign neglect.’ Your dog’s immune system will then combat the virus on its own and the warts will eventually fall off.
If the vet does opt for medical intervention, they will either freeze the wart off or surgically remove it, which would be done under a local or general anesthetic.
In some cases, warts become irritated and infected. In this case, your vet may prescribe a course of antibiotics to tackle the secondary infection. However, this will not affect the wart virus itself.
Full recovery from warts depends on the course of treatment. If benign neglect is decided to be the best course of action, your dog may need 1 to 6 months before the virus has run its course and all warts have resolved. If surgical intervention is used, the warts may be gone in a matter of days or weeks.
For first-hand accounts from other owners, plus answered frequently asked questions from our trained, in-house vets, read our guide to the Wart Virus in Dogs.
Warts in dogs create a lot of the same symptoms as they do in humans. Some of those similarities are as follows:
■ In both dogs and humans, warts often start as white or red and develop into a more brown color as the wart grows.
■ Warts will always reveal themselves as small skin growths, whether it is a dog or human that has the virus.
■ In both dogs and humans, warts are often found in some similar locations, such as around the mouth, eyes, and nose.
■ Warts in both dogs and humans usually pose little threat.
As you can see, there are a lot of similarities in the symptoms of warts among dogs and humans. However, there are also a number of important distinctions worth touching upon. Some of those differences are as follows:
■ Canine warts can only be transmitted from dog to dog and warts in humans can only be transmitted from human to human. So you do not need to worry about contracting warts from your dog.
■ Genital warts in humans are a sexually transmitted disease, but these type of warts are found far less in dogs.
■ While warts are mostly left alone in dogs, a number of treatment options are often available to humans.
Navi was a 1-year-old Boxer when a large wart grew on his upper lip. The preferred treatment would have been to let it fall off on its own, but because of its location, it made eating painful. So the vet decided to freeze the wart off and prescribed antibiotics to fight any infection. While Navi did need some weeks before his mouth was fully healed and the infection beaten, his case illustrated that sometimes medical intervention is required if the wart is affecting the dog’s day to day life.