So you’re petting your dog one day when suddenly... "What’s this?", you blurt out upon feeling tiny yet prominent structures on your furry friend’s skin. It begged for a closer inspection. And upon looking, you began to wonder, "Are these dog warts?"

Like humans, dogs may also get warts (a.k.a., viral papillomas) due to certain viruses. However, it’s also important to note that not all growths that can be found on a dog’s skin are papillomas. So what are viral papillomas (warts) in dogs, and how can we distinguish them from other types of growths?

If warts in humans look round and generally smooth, warts in dogs are often characterized by cauliflower-like formations called fimbriae, some of which may also be smooth. Most commonly, those that contract viral papilloma in dogs are puppies due to their immature immune systems.

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Usually, warts may emerge in or around the area of their mouths or eyes. The good news is that the majority of viral papilloma infections are mild and are often resolved within 2 months.

Meanwhile, seniors may also get the condition due to their weakened immune systems. Older patients with "warts" located in areas other than their faces may indicate a different type of growth. Consulting with your veterinarian is best if you want to confirm whether your dog has papillomas or otherwise.

Let’s get to know more about viral papillomas, or dog warts, below.


  1. Why Do Dogs Get Warts or Viral Papillomas
  2. Canine Papilloma Virus Stages
  3. Oral Papilloma Virus in Dogs
  4. Warts on a Body in Dogs
  5. Dog Wart Removal
  6. FAQ
  7. Conclusion

Why Do Dogs Get Warts or Viral Papillomas

"What causes warts on dogs?" you might ask. Oftentimes, viral papilloma in dogs is caused by CPV1 (canine papillomavirus-1), which manifests itself as warts near the mouth. These papillomas (warts) are transmitted upon having direct contact with a dog infected with the virus or indirect contact when exposed to the environment (doggie daycare facilities, dog parks, pet boarding facilities) or things used by an infected dog (pet bowls, bedding, toys, etc.).

Dogs contract the virus through injured skin, such as wounds or cuts, so if your dog has healthy skin, they won’t be infected. The virus has an incubation period of 1-2 months and can only spread among canine species, meaning it isn’t contagious to other animal species or humans.

In addition, it doesn’t seem contagious after the regression of the lesions. Dogs who have recovered won’t get infected with the same virus strain, but there are other strains that they may not be immune to yet.

Generally, patients that get infected are those with either an immature or suppressed immune system, meaning puppies and young dogs are more susceptible to viral papillomas. Also, dogs with immune-mediated diseases who are orally taking cyclosporine may develop a papilloma lesion breakout.

To detect symptoms of viral papillomaviruses as well as other possible growths and conditions, a good pet camera such as the Petcube Camera may help. With its innovative features, such as the HD camera and AI technology, you may be able to closely monitor your dog 24/7 and know when something’s amiss.

Canine Papilloma Virus Stages

The development of the canine papillomavirus comes in three stages. These are:

  • Stage 1: It starts with a tiny, smooth lesion (usually in or around the mouth or eye) that spreads and multiplies.
  • Stage 2: The papilloma becomes more texturized and frond-like.
  • Stage 3: If the papilloma is situated inside the mouth or eyes and continues to grow and spread, this may cause discomfort and pain in severe cases. While uncommon, some cases of canine papillomavirus reach this stage.

Yes, there are ways to prevent our dogs from contracting diseases and accidents. However, as much as we want our dogs to be healthy and safe all the time, we cannot be 100% sure that they won’t be susceptible to pet emergencies.

In addition, veterinary bills, especially during emergencies, may skyrocket. Because of this, it helps to be prepared and secure by having a reliable pet fund, such as Petcube's Pet Emergency Fund. That way, we get the support and peace of mind that we need to be able to focus on our pet's healing and recovery.

Oral Papilloma Virus in Dogs

Also known as canine papillomavirus type 1 (CPV1), oral papillomavirus is a condition characterized by warts in or around a dog's mouth. Any dog may contract oral papillomas, but they are more common in puppies and senior dogs due to their vulnerable immune systems.

As the virus is found in the warts themselves, it is transmitted through direct or indirect contact with an infected dog.

Warts on a Body in Dogs


While viral papillomas typically develop in and around the mouth or eyes, they may also emerge in other areas of the body, such as the thick and dark areas of the skin, between the toes, and along the abdomen.

With viral papillomas that appear typical and emerge in usual patients of the condition (puppies), it may be easy to diagnose. However, when it comes to older dogs with wart-like structures other than their faces, it could be growths of another type.

Dog Wart Removal

If the patient isn’t the typical viral papilloma patient and if the growth’s appearance can’t be easily identified, a biopsy or removal may be recommended. This is because several types of growths may look innocent but behave in a malignant way.

Surgical removal of warts may be done. However, it must only be done on lesions that are already mature or are regressing. If surgery is performed too soon, it can trigger an increase in the quantity and growth of present lesions, making them likely to recur. Cryogenically freezing papillomas may also be done.

Meanwhile, are there ways to crush the canine papillomavirus? It turns out that sometimes when the growths are crushed, it stimulates the patient’s immune system to help in the process of regression. If you are considering this option, remember to seek the advice of your vet first.

In some cases, medications may be prescribed. Among the oral papilloma treatment options for dogs at home is imiquimod, a topical medication that aids in boosting immune-mediated inflammation, facilitating the body's efforts to destroy the virus.

In 2008, a research group in Turkey reported their success in using azithromycin in a 10-day course. Within 15 days, all lesions were removed without reported recurrence throughout the 8-month study.

At Georgetown University, a recombinant vaccine has been developed, but the product is still in the experimental stages.


Are dog warts contagious?

Warts or viral papillomas in dogs are only contagious among dogs and aren’t contagious to other animal species or humans. Meanwhile, regressed lesions don’t appear to be contagious.

Is a dog's eye wart dangerous?

If it is just a few, it may not cause any harm, especially when it comes to mild papillomas that are quickly resolved. However, in more persistent cases, it may cause discomfort or pain. If so, it is best to consult with your vet to determine the best treatment option.


Viral papillomas or warts in dogs typically affect puppies and, in mild cases, usually resolve within 2 weeks. However, older dogs may also contract the virus. Transmission of the virus happens through direct or indirect contact with an infected dog. Prevention may be done to lessen the chances of your dog contracting the virus. In mild cases, treatment may not be necessary. In severe cases, on the other hand, there are options available for removal.

It’s also important to note that not all growths are viral papillomas. If your dog has growths on their face or body, it’s best to consult with your vet to identify whether they're viral papillomas or a different type of growth. Treatment would depend on your vet’s diagnosis.

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