Dogs that lead social lives are exposed to various viruses, bacteria’s and parasites more frequently than their counterparts that lounge at home in solitude. This includes going to the dog parks, dog daycare, boarding facilities, puppy socials, training classes—even the aisles at the local pet store! Just because Fido lounges at home does not mean he is safe from all illness only that he has a lower probability of exposure.
What are puppy warts?
Puppy warts (Canine Papilloma Virus) are typically benign. They can be compared to chicken pox in humans. Generally, once the dog is exposed to the virus and presents with warts, the dog does not get them again. Don’t worry, you can’t catch puppy warts from your dog! Commonly the virus is found in dogs less than two years of age because they have a less effective immune system, but older dogs and dogs that have not been exposed to the virus can still catch it. It is commonly thought that the dogs must touch noses or “swap spit” to transfer the virus so dogs in a social environment are at a higher risk.
What do the puppy warts look like?
The most common appearance is inside the mouth. They look like small lumps in between the lips and the gum line (sometimes on the tongue). The lumps look pale pink raspberries or little pieces of cauliflower heads. The number and size of the warts in the mouth can vary greatly. The warts themselves are not dangerous and 99% of the time they are non-cancerous. Generally warts disappear within six weeks. Most veterinarians will not prescribe antibiotics unless the warts have been present for more than six months and there are a great number of them in the mouth.
What should I do if my dog has them?
Most veterinarians will not prescribe antibiotics unless the warts have been present for more than six months and there are a great number of them in the mouth. You need to decide the best course of action by talking with your veterinarian. Occasionally veterinarians recommend surgical removal when the warts are so numerous it prevents the dog from eating. Even more rarely it is possible to remove a wart and have it crushed and made into a vaccine specific to your dog.
What if my dog has warts?
Each pet care facility or daycare will have a different protocol about whether dogs with obvious infection will be allowed. Since the virus is thought to be contagious up to two weeks before an actual wart appears it is impossible for your provider to prevent outbreaks. The virus is not a serious health risk and is considered by most a “puppy illness” and a right of passage that most pup’s go through before they reach adulthood (much like chicken pox). Some pet care providers will dismiss a dog if it has an extremely bad case (numerous warts in and outside the mouth) because this indicates a severely compromised immune system.