Dog: Warts

General information

Other common/scientific names: viral papillomas, oral papillomatosis

Warts are referred to as benign, non-cancerous tumors which can be found around the lips, tongue and mouth or on the skin. They are classified as either viral (being caused by a virus) or nonviral warts.


Canine warts are caused by the canine papillomavirus in young dogs up to four years of age. This virus does not infect humans. Older dogs can develop skin growths that have the appearance of a wart; however, these are not caused by a virus.


The canine papillomavirus is transmitted by direct contact with warts on an infected dog or contact with the virus in the dog’s environment. Young dogs are much more susceptible to the virus than older dogs. The incubation period is 1 to 2 months.

Cardinal symptom

Oral and skin growths


The viral warts appear as round, gray, cauliflower-like growths found in clusters around a young dog’s lips, tongue and mouth. Warts in the older dog are usually solitary and found on the skin.


Diagnosis of viral warts is by physical examination based on their classic appearance. In older dogs, a biopsy with surgical removal can be used to identify nonviral warts and distinguish them from skin cancer.


Treatment is rarely needed, as viral warts resolve on their own within 1 to 5 months. If the location of the wart or warts is causing discomfort, such as when eating, surgical removal or cryosurgery are the most common forms of treatment. An anti-viral human medication has been used for severely infected dogs. Nonviral warts can also be removed if causing irritation or if a cancerous growth is suspected.


The prognosis for viral warts is good. Most nonviral warts in older dogs are benign causing no untoward effects.


Dogs which have not been affected with viral warts should be kept away from dogs with viral warts due to the contagious nature of the disease.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by
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