Warts are skin lumps, bumps or growths caused by a viral infection. Dog warts may resemble ticks, allergic reactions, fluid-filled cysts, skin tags or round white cauliflower-like growths. Although most dog warts are harmless and disappear without treatment, veterinarian Mike Richards recommends having unusual lumps examined to rule out cancer.
The Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Guide by Veterinarian Delbert Carlson and Doctor James Griffin suggests removal if warts bleed or become irritated (Resource 4). Dog warts are contagious (Reference1) and can be ugly and uncomfortable (Resource 3). Various wart removal options exist.
Watch and wait. According to veterinarian Walter Beswick, dogs younger than 18 months with immature immune systems and elderly or ill dogs with weak immunity are prone to viral warts. These may appear anywhere on the body and disappear without treatment within two to four weeks. Consult a veterinarian regarding discharge, increasing size or changes in wart colour or shape, since these may indicate malignancy.
Cut warts off using a scissors sterilised with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. To reduce pain, before cutting use an over-the-counter topical anesthetic cream containing lidocaine. After wart removal, apply antibiotic cream and cover the cut with waterproof band-aids or gauze wrap.
Cut off the wart's blood supply by tying thread, dental floss or string tightly around its base. Tighten the tie daily. The wart may fall off by itself within a week.
Cover the wart but not the surrounding skin, completely with duct tape. Then repeat option A or B for three to eight weeks until wart disappears.
Option A: Leave tape in place for six days. Remove. Soak the warts in warm water, then scrub with an emery board or pumice stone.
Option B: Coat warts nightly with salicylic acid. Allow to dry, then cover with duct tape. In the morning peel off tape. Warts should shrink daily.
Apply vitamins E, A or C directly to affected skin to boost immunity and fight wart-causing papilloma virus. Warts should clear within a month.
Apply over-the-counter human wart removers available at your local pharmacy. These include freezes like dimethyl ether, which should work within a month and chemical burns like salicylic acid, which may take two to eight weeks.
Request surgical wart removal. Using a local anesthetic, a veterinarian can burn, freeze or cut off warts. Surgical removal of benign warts using higher risk general anaesthesia is not recommended, unless performed during another surgery when your dog is already anaesthetised.
- Use a remedy, such as freezing, that doesn't contain toxic chemicals. Apply a neck cone to prevent your dog from licking medicines or bandages.
- After a 2002 comparison study, Dr. Dean Focht concluded that wart removal using duct tape banished warts 25 per cent more effectively than freezing within the first month of treatment. Duct tape may stimulate immune response and/or cut off air the wart requires to grow.
- Regarding over-the-counter wart removers, veterinarian Walter Beswick cautions, "Any of the applications you can buy from the pharmacist for human use may do, but... make sure your dog cannot lick it--most contain some sort of caustic which could cause serious problems in his mouth."
- Discontinue wart removal treatment if skin around wart becomes irritated.