Warts in dogs

Warts and other lumps are stressful things to find on your dog. There are two types of warts that commonly appear in dogs, one that affects puppies and another more common in older dogs. 

Skin tags or lumps that look like warts are usually caused by a Papillomavirus. Puppies will develop small cauliflower-like growths on their lips or gums, often in small groups. Older dogs develop small tags on their skin anywhere in their body. In both cases, the growths tend to be small and usually disappear after several weeks. There are other types of skin growths that can look like warts, especially on the eyelids. 



 What causes warts in dogs

There are many types of papillomavirus and they are very common. If skin defences are disrupted, a dog papillomavirus can break in and infect skin cells. This causes these cells to grow abnormally and results in a wart

Puppies tend to get warts on their gums. Their immature defences allow the virus to settle in without a previous injury. The virus causing these is the same

Some skin tumours can initially look like warts, but these can be a lot more serious.


Symptoms of warts in dogs

The most obvious symptom is obviously the wart itself, but sometimes you can also see:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • Discharge

These symptoms should be discussed with a vet as they may point to a more serious problem or complication.


Dogs at higher risk of developing warts

Puppies tend to have bigger warts and are much more likely to have multiple warts.

Dogs with a weak immune system, due to disease or treatment for other conditions.

Dogs that have previously had skin cancer are at higher risk of something more serious.

Can I catch warts from my dog? How about my other pets?

Humans cannot catch warts from dogs. The dog papillomavirus can only affect dogs, so cats and other furries are also safe. It can spread between dogs, but only causes warts if the skin is damaged. No extra precautions are usually recommended to prevent spread.


How to know if a dog’s wart is serious

Your vet may suspect a Papilloma-type wart after visual examination and recommend monitoring

If the diagnosis isn’t clear, especially if there is inflammation or discomfort, your vet may try to take a  sample with a needle to examine under the microscope. This is called a Fine Needle Aspirate or FNA.

If this isn’t enough, a biopsy may be required.

Vet treatment

How to treat warts in dogs

Mouth warts in puppies will disappear after 4-8 weeks. If there are a lot of them, or they are large, they can cause issues with eating or get infected. Such cases may need treatment with antibiotics or anti-inflammatories. Very severe cases may need to be treated with a specially-prepared vaccine.

Skin warts on older dogs will often disappear as well. If the wart is getting traumatised or if there are any concerns, it can be removed surgically.

Cryosurgery uses extremely cold liquid to freeze a lump in place and then remove it with minimal bleeding. This is an option in some practices but requires special equipment and knowledge. 

Removal of warts should always be done professionally. Using unlicensed ointments or procedures at home can damage the skin and cause serious complications.

Home treatment

What should I do about my dog’s warts?

Any growths or lumps should be examined by a vet. If your vet recommends monitoring, it may help if you measure a lump every 1-2 weeks and check it every couple of days.

Trying to remove warts at home may cause unnecessary suffering, infection or even help them spread.

When to worry

When to worry about a wart on my dog

A vet check may be urgent  if:

  • The wart becomes red and inflamed
  • There is swelling or discharge
  • The area becomes painful or itchy
Consult a vet - £28

Consult your vet online. Anyday, anytime.

Consult a Joii vet online for £28. Or free if you’re insured with one of our partners.

Developed by vets 🩺

QR code to app

How to get an

Join a practice

*It's free*

Download the app to register and become a member of Joii vets. In only a few taps you will have access to digital vet care 24/7 as well as a vet practice

Download the app

We’re writing as quick as we can

This article is currently being written by one of our expert vets. Check back soon.