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Papilloma Virus/Warts In Dogs And Puppies

Like people, dogs have a type of virus called papilloma virus that can lead to the formation of papillomas, otherwise known as warts. In people, papillomas are found most commonly on the hands and fingers, toes and feet, and genital regions. In dogs, warts caused by papilloma virus most commonly occur around the mouth and less commonly around the eyes.

Warts in dogs present a bit differently than they do in people. Whereas human warts tend to be smooth and round, papilloma warts in dogs have an irregular, cauliflower appearance, with most falling into a size range of 1 – 5 mm. As previously mentioned, they occur most commonly around the lips, sometimes on the mucus membranes of the inner lips and gums, and rarely around the eyes. They do not cause pain, unless one or more become infected from trauma and/or bacteria in the mouth.

Infection with papilloma virus most commonly occurs through direct contact with another infected dog or with the virus in the pet’s environment. The virus can be quite hardy and can be seen to persist in the environment for several hours to as long as 2 months. Incubation from the time of infection to the development of papilloma warts is 1-2 months. Infection is most common in young dogs, less than 2 years of age. CANINE PAPILLOMA WARTS ARE NOT CONTAGIOUS TO PEOPLE, NOR ARE PEOPLE PAPILLOMA WARTS CONTAGIOUS TO DOGS.

The papilloma warts themselves do not pose any significant danger to the infected dog. As the canine patient’s immune system matures and mounts a meaningful defense against papilloma virus, the warts will typically go away on their own in 1-5 months.

In the vast majority of cases, treatment is not necessary, but in the rare cases of papilloma warts that persist for longer than 5 months, or the number of warts are so severe that the dog has problems even eating, then the surgical removal of one or a few warts has been known to speed up the rate at which the canine immune system clears the warts. Interferon has also been shown to speed the clearance of papilloma warts.

In my 10 years plus career as a veterinarian, I have not ever had to resort to any treatment measures for canine papilloma virus, with waiting out the warts being an effective approach in every case I have seen.


Roger Welton, DVM
Founder, Web-DVM
President, Maybeck Animal Hospital
CEO, Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care

Article updated 5/23/2014

13 thoughts on “Papilloma Virus/Warts In Dogs And Puppies

  1. Whitney says:

    My 10 month old Golden Retriever has one of these on his lip. The vet said he wasn’t sure what it was, but it looks just like the pictures on COPV I’ve seen online. I was going to wait until 12-18 months to neuter him, but we moved it up to now so that he can have this growth removed. Do you think it’s okay to neuter him while he has a COPV infection? Should we just wait for the wart to resolve on its own?

  2. Sandi says:

    My 14 year old Cocker has about 30+ different papilloma virus warts On every part of his body, but not mouth/genitals. Some have been there for 3 years. None are going away. Interferon hasn’t helped. Smashing and injecting warts into themselves hasn’t worked.They often brake and bleed. I have to do a big cleanup every week. Any Ideas To help.

    • m says:

      sounds like your cocker has cysts not warts.

      • Kerrin Bugis says:

        I also have a blue roam cocker who has warts AND CYSTS all over her back and sides. The cysts present completely different than the warts. She has none around her mouth or eyes. Some of them weep from time to time, they don’t seem to cause her any problem. Some of them have been there for over five years.

  3. Jennie says:

    My frenchie is 2 years old and I noticed a wart back around thanksgiving. it got pretty large in January and she kept busting it open and I had it removed in February. I wish I never had it removed, she has them all over on the inside of her cheeks, lips, and tongue. They are getting bigger and I read that Thuja is a great holistic treatment since there is no real treatment for these. They just keep getting bigger and bigger. I don’t want to take her in to get them removed again if all they are going to do is come back. Any other suggestions. Her mouth is FULL!! Please help…

    • KJune says:

      Poor thing! I hope she’s feeling better. My frenchie mix is 10 months and I has had a single wart on her vulva for 6 or 7 months. I’ve heard that the best treatment is to boost their immune system. Supposedly L-Lysine supplements will help – but talk to your vet about it first. I’d just be concerned something else is weakening his/her immune system. Best of luck

    • Rebecca says:

      My 9 month old lab/pit/rotty/chow rescue pup developed 1 on his lip a month ago. He is a Mississippi flood victim, lousy start in life, also has minor localized d-mange around his eyes. I put him on a limited ingredient diet, immune supplements [NUPRO, Seameal, lactobacillus, Salmon oil]. Ten days ago I gave him Thuja occ 30 [2 crushed and placed on his tongue]. 4 days ago started apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball a couple times a day. It started shrinking after the 1st day! Getting ready to give him 2nd dose of Thuja today but the wart is GONE! I plan to keep up the supplements, if I see the start of another wart I will give Thuja as he had no ill effects, and start the vinegar right away.

    • Klee says:

      Our dog just got over warts. He had a huge one and then many more developed. I used thuya giving him 6 pills one day, another 6 the next day and then one week later another 6. The warts are gone!! The only sign he ever had them is a small pink spot where they were. The thuya worked like a charm.

  4. I just heard about Parvo virus from my dog’s vet.
    And I get him the needed vaccination duly scheduled, don’t want any carelessness in that.

  5. Lucie says:

    Papilloma Virus is very common in Dogs and People.

  6. Kai says:

    Many people don’t know but Papilloma Virus is really common in dogs.

  7. Mai says:

    Papilloma Virus is very common and I feel it is necessary to treat it as soon as possible.

  8. Dee says:

    My 3 year female mix was diagnosis with Papillomas virus ON HER PAWS!!! Yes she had these warts on her Paws. I had a Biopsy Done. And it came back “Benign outaneous viral squamous papilloma. The Dr. Thinks she got it playing at the dog park. And she must have either grab a ball that sill had fresh salvia on, or somehow got her paw into one of the dogs that’s has it. So I wouldn’t say it’s NOT Contagious. Chloe-Ann got it from some other dog. I have the report is anyone wants to look at it.

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