Do Dog Warts Mysteriously Vanish? The Truth About Those Pesky Growths

What are dog warts?

Dog warts, also known as canine papillomas or papillomavirus-induced tumors, are small, benign skin growths caused by infection with the canine papillomavirus (CPV).

The canine papillomavirus is very contagious and spreads through direct contact between dogs. It causes small, cauliflower-like skin lesions that first appear as small, firm bumps that can develop into warts (papillomas).

Dog warts are defined as small, round, raised bumps on the skin that have a rough surface. They are typically pink or white in color. Dog warts range in size from 1 to 5 mm in diameter. They develop a stalk and resemble a cauliflower in shape as they grow larger over time.

a dog with a wart on its paw

While unsightly, dog warts are benign tumors and are not cancerous. They are caused entirely by the canine papillomavirus attaching to the skin cells of dogs and causing abnormal cell growth.

Dog warts most commonly develop on areas prone to trauma, such as the lips, gums, eyelids and skin between toes. Warts can also appear on the belly and groin. They may occur as single growths or multiple warts clustered together.

With an incubation period of 1 to 2 months, dog warts typically persist for 1 to 5 months before disappearing on their own as the dog’s immune system fights off the virus. While not life threatening, treatment may be required if warts become problematic.

What causes dog warts?

Dog warts, also known as canine papillomas or fibroepithelial polyps, are benign skin growths caused by papillomavirus infection. There are many strains of canine papillomavirus, and infection usually occurs through direct contact between dogs, especially when the skin barrier is compromised.

According to research, papillomavirus is very contagious and easily spread through microscopic abrasions in the skin. Sniffing, licking, and playing with other dogs allows transmission of the virus. The virus can also be spread through shared toys, bedding, food and water bowls.

Younger dogs under the age of 2 are more susceptible to the canine papillomavirus. This is likely because they have underdeveloped immune systems and have lower immunity to the virus. Older dogs tend to develop stronger immunities over time. However, dogs of any age can become infected.

In most cases, a healthy immune system will eventually suppress the virus and the warts will disappear on their own. However, dogs with weaker immune systems may develop more severe and persistent infections. Thankfully papillomavirus generally does not lead to lasting health problems in dogs.

Do Dog Warts Go Away On Their Own?

Warts in dogs are commonly caused by papillomaviruses and often resolve on their own within 1 to 5 months as the dog’s immune system produces antibodies to clear the infection (https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/all-about-dog-warts-types-causes-and-treatments). The warts initially appear and grow as the virus replicates, but they then tend to dry up and disappear as the dog develops immunity against that strain of the virus (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/papilloma-of-the-skin).

a dog's warts disappearing

The dog’s immune system is usually able to clear the viral infection over time. As the dog’s antibodies attack the virus, the warts start to regress and eventually slough off and disappear. This immune response often clears the infection entirely within a few months in young healthy dogs. Warts in older dogs or dogs with compromised immune systems may take longer to resolve or may require additional treatment.

So while dog warts often go away on their own as the immune system kicks in, some persistence and patience may be needed as it can take 1-5 months for the infection to fully clear. Checking with your vet is advised if the warts do not seem to be improving or continue to spread. But in most cases, the dog’s immune system will take care of the infection and the warts will dry up and go away on their own.

Can dog warts be removed?

Dog warts can be surgically removed by a veterinarian, usually under local anesthesia. The vet will cut or scrape the wart off using a scalpel, laser, or cryosurgery (freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen). However, surgical removal is often not necessary as most dog warts resolve on their own within 1-2 months. There are some risks with surgery including infection, bleeding, scarring, and wart recurrence. Surgery is usually only recommended for warts that persist for many months, are located in areas prone to trauma, bleed easily, or become irritated.

According to PetMD, “Surgical removal of warts is indicated especially when the warts bleed easily, are prone to trauma, or persist despite appropriate therapy.”[1]

So while surgical removal is an option for stubborn warts, it’s not always needed. Most vets recommend waiting to see if the dog’s immune system can clear up the warts on its own before considering surgery which comes with inherent risks.

Home remedies for dog warts

There are some natural home remedies that may help get rid of or reduce dog warts without the need for surgery or harsh chemicals. These remedies can boost the immune system to fight the virus and dry out warts to help them disappear. Some options to try at home for dog warts include:

Apple cider vinegar: The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help dry out warts and stimulate the immune system. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water, then apply it topically to the wart using a cotton ball. Do this 2-3 times a day. One study found that apple cider vinegar cleared up warts in dogs within 1-2 weeks (https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Dog-Warts-symptoms–treatments-and-home-remedies).

Vitamin E: Vitamin E supports immune function and may help reduce wart size when applied topically. Break open a vitamin E capsule and apply the oil directly on the wart. Use several times a day (https://wagwalking.com/treatment/natural-wart-remedies).

Tea tree oil: The antiseptic and antiviral properties in tea tree oil can help dry out warts. Dilute with a carrier oil like coconut oil first before applying to the wart. Use a few times daily, but avoid getting it near your dog’s eyes.

Immune boosting diet: Support your dog’s immune system to help fight the virus causing warts. Feed your dog a diet rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, probiotics, and immune supportive herbs. Talk to your veterinarian for specific supplement recommendations.

home remedies for dog warts

When to see the vet for dog warts

In most cases, dog warts are harmless growths caused by a virus and often go away on their own without treatment. However, there are some instances when you will want to take your dog to the vet for evaluation and potential treatment of warts (Source):

  • Warts are spreading or growing rapidly – This could indicate an underlying issue causing immunosuppression.
  • Warts are bleeding or appear ulcerated – They should be checked for any abnormalities.
  • Warts are near the eyes or genitals – Warts in sensitive areas have a higher risk of irritation.
  • Your dog seems bothered or irritated by the warts – Discomfort may warrant removal.

In general, warts that persist for more than 3-5 months should be evaluated by your vet (Source). While most dog warts are harmless, it’s important to monitor any changes and have your vet assess warts that don’t go away, appear abnormal, or are in sensitive areas.

Are dog warts contagious to other pets/people?

Yes, dog warts are highly contagious to other dogs. The virus that causes warts can spread through direct contact between dogs, especially if a dog licks or sniffs a wart on an infected dog. Warts in dogs are caused by papillomaviruses, and once a dog has been infected with one strain, they typically develop immunity to that specific strain. However, there are many strains of papillomaviruses that can cause warts in dogs.

According to PetMD [1], the contagious period for dog warts is usually 1-2 months, but can be longer in some cases. Warts will often resolve on their own as the dog’s immune system fights off the infection.

The risk of humans contracting warts from dogs is very low. Pet warts cannot be transmitted to people. Maintaining good hygiene is still recommended when handling warts to avoid any secondary infections. Washing hands after touching warts and keeping the dog’s living space clean can help reduce risks.

In summary, dog warts are very contagious to other dogs but pose minimal risks to human health. Practicing proper pet hygiene is still advised when dogs have active warts.

Preventing dog warts

There are a few ways to help prevent your dog from developing warts, though keep in mind that not all types of warts can be prevented.

For viral papillomas specifically, vaccination can help prevent infection. There are vaccines available for the canine papillomavirus strains that most commonly cause oral and cutaneous warts in dogs. Talk to your vet about vaccination if viral papillomas are common in your area or if your dog is at high risk.

In general, keeping your dog’s immune system strong can help its body resist and fight off infections. Feed your dog a nutritious diet, avoid exposing them to toxins, and limit stress. Certain supplements like vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc may support immune health. Check with your vet before starting any supplements.

Since warts spread through contact, limiting your dog’s exposure to infected dogs can reduce transmission risk. Avoid dog parks, daycares, groomers, and other high-traffic areas if warts are detected. Don’t share toys, bowls, or beds between dogs either. Promptly treat any warts that do develop to minimize contagious period.

While you can take steps to reduce wart risk, keep in mind that most types of warts cannot be completely prevented. Even with precautions, warts sometimes still occur. The good news is that many dog warts resolve on their own or can be managed with treatment if needed.

Sources:
https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/healthcare/dog-warts
a dog receiving a vaccine
https://wagwalking.com/wellness/how-to-prevent-warts-on-your-dog

Living with a dog with warts

Having a dog with warts can be concerning, but try to be patient as they usually resolve on their own. Here are some tips for living with a dog with warts:

Be patient. Dog warts caused by viruses often go away on their own within a few weeks or months as the immune system fights them off. Avoid unnecessary medications or procedures and give your dog’s body time to clear the warts.

Keep the areas around warts clean. Gently wipe any weeping or bloody warts with a warm damp cloth. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can damage healthy tissue. Keep your home clean to avoid infecting other pets.

Don’t pick at or scratch warts. Picking can damage healthy tissue and spread the virus to other areas. Use an Elizabethan collar if necessary to prevent scratching.

Monitor warts for changes. Note any changes in size, color, bleeding, or odor, which may indicate a secondary infection. Contact your vet if warts persist longer than expected.

With patience and proper care at home, your dog’s immune system can often clear up warts on its own. But see your vet if you have any concerns or warts worsen or persist longer than expected.

When do dog warts dry up and fall off?

The time it takes for a dog’s warts to dry up and fall off can vary, but often it takes 1-5 months, according to PetMD. As a dog’s immune system builds up a defense against the virus causing the warts, the warts will begin to resolve on their own. The wart tissue will dry up and then slough off, coming off the skin in the form of scabs.

In most cases, dog warts will disappear within this 1-5 month timeframe as the dog’s body clears the infection. However, in some cases warts may persist longer than 5 months. If a dog’s warts have not cleared up after 5 months, it’s a good idea to consult the veterinarian. The vet can examine the warts and determine if any other treatment may be needed to help clear the viral infection.

While waiting for a dog’s warts to disappear, owners should keep an eye on the warts but resist the urge to pick at them. Let the warts run their course and fall off on their own, as picking can damage the surrounding skin and lead to further infection. Be patient, as the warts often clear up on their own once the dog’s immune system has time to build defenses against the virus causing them.

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