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Papillomas in Dogs

Papillomas in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Papillomas in dogs are small, benign growths of viral origin. The species-specific canine papillomavirus, or CPV, causes papillomas. 

The papillomavirus is ubiquitous in the environment. Dogs get infected when their immune systems are compromised. Young and immuno-compromised dogs are particularly vulnerable. 

Papillomas develop solitary or in groups and are visible on the dog’s mouth, feet, or skin. Oral papilloma dog variants are the most common. 

Round or cauliflower-textured lumps, hyperpigmented plaques, itchiness, pain or discomfort, trouble eating, and limping are signs of dog papilloma

The treatment for papillomas in dogs includes medication or surgery. Papillomas resolve independently in many cases, eliminating the need for direct treatment. 

Homeopathic remedies and the daily use of pet-specific CBD oil help support the papilloma dog treatment. 

What is Papillomas in Dogs?

Papillomas in dogs are small, benign tumors caused by the papillomavirus. The tumors are  known as warts. 

Papillomas are the first benign tumors with an established viral etiology, according to a human study, “Papillomaviruses in Human Cancer,” published in Cancer in 2000. 

Papillomas are solitary or multiple growths on the dog’s skin or mucosal membranes. Standard growth areas include the dog’s mouth, feet, and abdomen. The growths appear suddenly and cause pain or discomfort depending on their size and location. 

Papillomas are more common among young, senior, and immune-compromised dogs. Certain breeds, like Pugs, Miniature Schnauzers, Shar Peis, Cocker Spaniels, and Kerry Blue Terriers, have a higher-than-average risk of developing warts.  

In recent years, a rising number of papillomaviruses have been identified in dogs, totaling 24 canine papillomaviruses (CPV), reports a study “Canine and Feline Papillomaviruses: An Update” published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science in 2023. 

Warts generally disappear on their own once the dog builds immunity. Treatment is vital if they impair the dog’s daily activities, are infected, or fail to heal spontaneously. 

How do Papillomas in Dogs Work?

Papillomas in dogs work by interfering with daily activities and causing pain. Dogs contract the virus through skin breakages (for example, a flea or mosquito bite). 

Papillomas develop if the virus takes hold before the immune system manages to fight off the infection. The growths begin to appear approximately six weeks after initial viral contact. 

The standard wart resembles a small, smooth, or cauliflower head with different pigmentation. Less common types, such as inverted papillomas, resemble doughnuts or firm lumps with a small dot in the center. 

Papillomas are named based on location. For example, warts in the mouth are oral papillomas, warts on the feet are pedal papillomas, and warts on the skin are cutaneous papillomas. 

Is Papilloma Virus in Dogs?

Yes, papilloma is a virus in dogs. Papillomaviruses (PVs) are small and non-enveloped viruses with a double-stranded circular DNA molecule. 

There are 24 recognized types of canine papillomaviruses (CPVs) in dogs. Most CPVs belong to three genera, including the Chipapillomavirus, Lambdapapillomavirus, and Taupapillomavirus classifications.

The different papillomaviruses exhibit tropism (or preference) for unique organs.  Some exhibit tropism for several organs simultaneously. 

For example, oral papilloma virus in dogs attacks the oral cavity, but CPV1 attacks both the oral cavity and the skin.  

Can Papillomas in Dogs Lead to Tumor?

Yes, papillomas in dogs can lead to tumors. Tumors develop directly from the papillomavirus or when benign papillomas fail to heal and become cancerous growths.  

Recent data indicate the provocation of precancerous and neoplastic lesions in domestic species by the papillomatosis virus, reports a study “Papillomavirus-Associated Neoplasms of Dogs and Cats” published in Veterinariya, Zootekhniya i Biotekhnologiya in 2022. 

Papillomaviruses from the genera Taupapillomavirus and Chipapillomavirus are responsible for some cases of skin and oral tumors in dogs

PVs are associated with developing oral and cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas, according to a study, “Papillomaviruses in Dogs and Cats,” published in the Veterinary Journal in 2017. 

Cancerous tumors caused by the cutaneous and oral papilloma virus in dogs require immediate veterinary attention and treatment. 

What are the Symptoms of Papillomas in Dogs?

The symptoms of papillomas in dogs are listed below.

Benign Growths: Papillomas manifest as small, smooth, or cauliflower-like growths that are light or dark-pigmented. The inverted papilloma is a rare variety that resembles a ring or doughnut. 

Cutaneous Plaques: The papillomavirus in some dogs causes cutaneous plaques. The plaques are intensely pigmented, multiple in number, and commonly distributed in the inner portion of the front and hind legs. 

Itchiness: The skin of dogs with multiple warts or cutaneous plaques on the legs and abdomen is itchy. Itchiness or pruritus complicates the situation. Dogs licking, chewing, or rubbing their papillomas risk bleeding or ulceration, resulting in secondary infections. 

Pain or Discomfort: Papillomas are painful or uncomfortable depending on their size, number, and location. Warts in the dog’s mouth make eating painful, and warts on the feet make walking painful. 

Trouble Eating: Dogs with warts in the lips, mouth, or oropharynx have difficulty eating, chewing, and swallowing. The issue manifests as a reluctance to eat. The dog goes over the food bowl but is afraid to eat, knowing it causes pain or discomfort. 

Lameness: Lameness or limping is seen in dogs with multiple or large papillomas on the feet. Walking and going outside are challenging physical activities for a dog who limps.

How are Papillomas Diagnosed in Dogs?

Papillomas are diagnosed in dogs based on appearance and fine needle aspiration (FNA) or biopsy results. Papillomas have a unique appearance that aids with the diagnosis. 

A definitive diagnosis is achieved through FNA or biopsy. FNA is a minimally invasive technique in which the vet uses a small needle and syringe to draw a cell sample from the tumor. 

A biopsy is recommended when the FNA results are unclear. A biopsy involves the surgical removal of a tiny tumor piece, and small papillomas or warts are removed entirely during the procedure. 

A veterinary pathologist analyzes the cell sample collected via FNA and the biopsy tissue sample under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis. 

What Causes Papillomas in Dogs?

The causes of papillomas in dogs are listed below. 

  • Chipapillomavirus: The genus includes most of the papillomaviruses in dogs (CPV 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, and 24) and causes viral pigmented plaques and squamous cell carcinomas on the skin and oral cavity. 
  • Lambdapapillomavirus: The genus includes two types, CPV 1 and CPV 6, and causes oral papillomas, cutaneous papillomas, inverted papillomas, and conjunctival epithelial hyperplasia. 
  • Taupapillomavirus: The genus (CPV 2, 7, 13, 17, 20, 21, 22, and 23) affects the skin and oral cavity, causing cutaneous and squamous cell carcinomas. 

How Common Are Papillomas in The Mouth of Dogs?

Papillomas in the mouth of the dogs are very common. Oral papillomas develop on the mucosal membrane of the mouth and lip commissures. The palate and oropharynx are affected in rare cases. 

At least 50% of dogs carry antibodies to the canine papillomavirus, according to a study, “Clinically Healthy Skin of Dogs Is a Potential Reservoir for Canine Papillomaviruses,” published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology in 2011. 

Oral papillomas in dogs appear suddenly and exhibit rapid growth and spread rates. CPV growths in the mouth are typical for puppies and younger dogs. The warts look like small, light, or dark growths with a smooth or cauliflower-like texture. 

Is Papillomas Caused by Food Allergies?

No, papillomas are not caused by food allergies. Papillomas are caused by a virus called PV or papillomavirus. 

Dogs encounter papillomaviruses daily. Infections occur when the dog’s immune system is exhausted. 

Allergies are non-infectious conditions that develop when the dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies a protein in the food as a threat. 

The immune system then triggers an attack against the protein, resulting in a dog food allergy in dogs. Common sources of allergies are chicken, dairy, beef, eggs, and grains.  

Can Canine Papillomas Spread to Humans?

No, canine papillomas cannot spread to humans. Papillomas are caused by an infectious tumor that is species-specific. 

Species-specific means that different species have unique papillomaviruses that do not cross barriers. Dogs are infected by canine papillomavirus (CPV) and humans by human papillomavirus (HPV). 

The canine papillomavirus does not spread to humans in the same way that the human papillomavirus does not spread to dogs. 

What is the Treatment for Papillomas in Dogs?

The treatment for papillomas in dogs ranges from supportive care and immunity modulation to special vaccines and surgery. 

Warts in dogs have a self-resolving tendency. The growths disappear when the dog develops immunity against them within six to eight weeks. Treatment is recommended in severe cases. 

Papilloma treatment is necessary for numerous warts, warts on sensitive places, infected warts, and warts that have turned into cancerous tumors. Dogs on immunosuppressives are unable to fight the virus alone and require treatment. 

The standard rule is to treat all warts that persist for more than three to five months medically or surgically. 

The treatment for papillomavirus in dogs is surgical or medical. Surgery is appropriate for dogs with one or a small number of growths. The procedure uses a scalpel or less invasive techniques like laser ablation and cryosurgery. 

“Cryotherapy may be a useful treatment for persistent canine papilloma lesions,” according to a study, “Persistent Papilloma Treated with Cryotherapy in Three Dogs,” published in Veterinary Dermatology in 2017. 

The medical treatment is based on immunostimulants, certain antibiotics, and topical creams. 

Interferon and immunooregulin are commonly used immunostimulants. Vaccines made from dog warts are another way of stimulating the immune system. 

Azithromycin, an azalide subclass macrolide antibiotic, is an effective, well-tolerated and safe therapeutic option for treatment of papillomatosis in humans,” reports a study “Azithromycin Therapy of Papillomatosis in Dogs: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial” published in Veterinary Dermatology in 2008. 

The most popular cream for warts is imiquimod which is used alone or with other treatment approaches. 

Successful treatment of warts in dogs sometimes requires using several treatment options simultaneously. 

Surgical debulking, topical 5% imiquimod cream, and an experimental vaccine were used to successfully treat warts in the case report “Multimodal Treatment of a Dog with Disseminated Cutaneous Viral Papillomatosis,” published in Veterinary Dermatology in 2018. 

How can Papillomas in Dogs Be Prevented?

Papillomas in dogs can be prevented by supporting a strong immunity and limiting contact with infected dogs. 

Feed the dog high-quality food, engage them in regular exercise, and use immune-boosting supplements to ensure a healthy and potent immune response. 

Do not let the dog interact with other dogs with visible warts. Avoid crowded areas like dog parks, boarding kennels, and grooming facilities if the dog has open skin wounds or compromised immunity.

“Preventative vaccination is possible for CPV but not readily available on the market,according to a study titled “Canine Papillomaviruses” published in The Veterinary Clinics of North America, Small Animal Practice in 2011. 

Dogs infected with papillomavirus become immune to the specific type once healed but remain vulnerable to other types. 

Can Papillomas in Dogs Cause Discomfort or Affect Eating?

Yes, papillomas in dogs can cause discomfort or affect eating. Oral papillomas occur on the lips, gums, and oropharynx. The growths interfere with eating, chewing, and swallowing, depending on their size, location, and number.

Dogs accidentally bite oral papillomas when eating, causing them to bleed. Bleeding papillomas are at risk of becoming infected, which is painful.  

Dogs with severe forms of oral papillomas are reluctant to eat. The reduced or absent appetite negatively impacts the dog’s immunity, prolonging the healing period. 

Are There Home Remedies for Treating Papillomas in Dogs?

Yes, there are home remedies for treating papillomas in dogs. Rubbing commercially available castor oil or vitamin E is reported to be beneficial for treating warts at home. Homeopathic remedies are popular for treating mild cases. 

Homeopathic remedies “can reorganize defense cells, providing the body with evident clinical improvement,” states a study, “Efficacy of the Association of Homeopathy and Autohemotherapy in the Treatment of Dogs with Papillomatosis: Case Report,” published in Pubvet in 2023. 

The study included a 4-month-old male American Pit Bull Terrier with oral papillomatosis. The dog was treated solely with Kali sulphuricum, Thuya occidentalis, and Acidum nitricum

The homeopathic remedies induced autohemotherapy, and complete remission was achieved within 30 days. The treatment was used for six months to prevent papilloma recurrence. 

Is Papilloma a Type of Gum Disease in Dogs?

No, papilloma is not a type of gum disease. Papilloma is a viral condition with benign growths that sometimes appear on the lips, oral cavity, and oropharynx. 

Gum or periodontal disease is caused by poor hygiene and long-term plaque and tartar build-up. The plaque and tartar pressure and inflame the gingiva. 

Oral papilloma and gum disease in dogs have different etiologies, but they have overlapping clinical signs, like pain and trouble eating and chewing. 

Can CBD Oil Treat Papillomas in Dogs?

Yes, CBD oil can treat papillomas in dogs. CBD, or cannabidiol, is not a papilloma cure but helps boost immunity and relieve symptoms. 

CBD has immune-modulating properties, which is beneficial for dogs that are unable to fight off viral infections. CBD boosts immunity naturally through the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The CBD’s analgesic (anti-pain), anti-inflammatory, and anti-pruritic properties help relieve the wart symptoms. CBD oil for dogs has a calming effect that supports relaxation and prevents the dog from scratching or biting the papillomas.