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Young and Old Dog Warts

Warts, more commonly called papillomas, are among the most common skin lesions seen in dogs. While conventional medicine can offer little more than surgery for dogs with warts, natural medicine can offer several treatments that can quickly resolve these common lesions.

There are two types of warts commonly seen in dogs. The first type of wart usually occurs in puppies, although I have seen this problem in middle age and older dogs as well. This type of wart is caused by the canine papilloma virus. It is highly transmissible between puppies and dogs, and it's not unusual to see several pets in a household affected. These warts typically occur on mucous membranes, and are commonly found on the lips, nose, and gums of infected dogs. Less commonly, they are found in the mucous membranes of the anus or genitals. Because of their highly transmissible nature, it is recommended to avoid exposure of infected dogs was not infected dogs until the lesions are gone.

The second type of wart is commonly referred to as the “old dog wart.” These warts occur anywhere on the dog’s body except the mucous membranes. They are not caused by the canine papilloma virus and are not transmissible between dogs. These old Hogwarts more commonly seen in smaller breeds of dogs, especially Poodles, Maltese, and Bichons, although they can occur in any older dog.

Both types of warts typically appear as small raised pinkish lesions, although they can be white, gray, or even black (in which case they are easily confused with a more serious skin lesion, a melanoma tumor.)

Viral induced warts that occur on mucous membranes tend to be larger and more elevated from the surface of the skin than old dog warts. Viral induced warts also tend to occur in clusters rather than as single lesions as is more typical of old dog warts.

While neither wart is fatal, some warts, especially viral induced warts that occur in puppies, can cause problems for the dog. Viral induced warts that occur in the mouth can become infected, can bleed, and can cause pain and difficulty when the puppy tries to eat. Old dog warts, while usually not a problem, can be uncomfortable for the dog, causing it to scratch the wart, making the wart bleed. Additionally, some old dog warts are easily nicked during grooming.

There are rare instances of cancerous tumors, especially mast cell tumors, masquerading as old dog warts. Any wart which grows, changes color, causes itching or bleeding, should be removed and sent to a laboratory for microscopic diagnosis.

Other than surgical removal, there are no conventional therapies to cure warts in dogs. However, there are several natural therapies that are affected in curing warts in dogs. In my experience, these natural therapies tend to be more effective in dogs whose warts are caused by the canine papilloma virus than in dogs with nonviral old dog warts.

Duke was a four-month-old golden retriever puppy I saw who unfortunately had a large number of viral induced warts on his lips, tongue, and gums. While they were not currently interfering with his ability to eat, they were a concern to his owner.

Duke's current veterinarians had told his owners that there was nothing he could do for the warts but that they should fall off in a few months as his immune system matured. Preferring instead to give Duke a quicker resolution to his problem, his owner sought my opinion.

As I discussed with Duke's owner, these warts are caused by a virus and will typically go away as a puppy's immune system matures. However, that could take 3 to 6 months and his owner wanted the warts to be cured much sooner. Additionally, she wanted to avoid surgery for Duke if at all possible.

Since the warts were not bothering Duke and did not interfere with his ability to eat, I told his owner that surgery would not be necessary at this time.

With all of this in mind, I prescribed the following therapies to help cure Duke of his warts.

I started with an immune supporting supplement from RX Vitamins for Pets called Immunosupport. This supplement contains several immune boosting ingredients including arabinogalactans, lutein, and shitake mushrooms. This is one of my favorite products to use for pets with any sort of immune problem, including viral diseases such as papillomavirus.

I also prescribed a homeopathic product that works particularly well for pets with any sort of skin disease including warts called Psorinoheel, made by Heel. This combination homeopathic contains ingredients that help heal damaged skin and have potent antiviral properties including Psorinum, Sulfur, and Thuja.

A follow-up call one week later revealed no new warts and according to Duke’s owner, there were actually fewer warts in his mouth. Several had already fallen off in the spots where they had previously attached to his lips and gums.

Three weeks later, Duke’s owner called to tell us that he was now was free of his warts and asked if he could resume his puppy training classes. Since Duke was no longer considered infectious, I told her that he could return to class whenever she wished.

While each pet’s response to natural therapies is different, the cure that Duke exhibited it quite typical of many of the puppies I have treated with oral viral warts. There is no reason to wait many months for the puppy's immune system to mature and cure itself when natural therapies can often prove effective in a much shorter period of time.

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