Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"My dog has warts?"

What do Witches, frogs and puppies have in common? The first two have an easy link, but when you throw puppies into the mix, it definitely gets a bit more challenging. The answer is: Warts.

Witches are supposed to have them on the end of their noses, old superstitions tell us that frogs and toads can give you warts (by the way, they can’t), but warts? Together with puppies?

Yes, well most of us call them warts but they are in fact called canine oral papillomavirus.  These “warts” are actually benign skin tumors.  They can appear inside of a dogs’ mouth on the gums, lips, tongue, and even outside of the mouth on the pups muzzle.  A lot of times they can go completely unnoticed both by your eyes and by your dogs lack on showing any symptoms of being ill.
Puppies are the most vulnerable to these papillomas because their immune systems aren’t strong enough yet to fight them off. They generally affect puppies and dogs up to about 2 years old. Once a dog gets them, they usually don’t get them again, but it has been known to happen.  The “wart” usually is round shaped and is rough across the surface, resembling the head of cauliflower.
These papillomas are not contagious to humans but they are from dog to dog, especially to puppies, so the dog should have limited socialization. They are transferred mostly by mouth to mouth contact, sharing toys, or even drinking from the same water bowl. The most important thing is to not worry too much.  We have been running Camp Run-A-Mutt for over 8 years and many dogs get them and they go away on their own. They are usually asymptomatic and require no treatment. They can be removed surgically or by “freezing” them off. They normally do not cause any problems unless they become infected or symptomatic, but it is always best to get your veterinarians opinion because these “warts” are tumors and they could possibly become cancerous.

For many of us, our dogs are “our kids” and like all kids, when they go out in the “real world”, they become exposed to many different things. Some of those things are good and some are bad, but only by exposure will they become stronger, more sociable, and better canine citizens.