Skip to main content

The lips, mouths, and muzzles of dogs are frequently affected by viral papillomas, sometimes known as oral warts, which are small, benign skin growths. Viral papillomas typically develop in the mouth region, on the tongue, lips, the roof of the mouth, or within the cheeks, however, they might sometimes develop between the toes or on the eyelid.

Not to be confused with dog blackheads, which shouldn’t be removed with toxic chemicals.

Young dogs and pups are more likely to develop multiple papillomas than older dogs and puppies because the immune systems of these animals are still developing. On the other side, older dogs are more likely to have single papillomas. Even though the diagnosis of a canine wart is rarely dangerous, it is still important to pay attention, primarily to make absolutely sure the lump isn’t a cancerous tumor.

There are 3 types of dog papillomas:

  1. Cutaneous papillomas
  2. Canine mucous membrane papillomatosis
  3. Cutaneous inverted papillomas

What Causes Dog Papilloma?

Dog papilloma causes

Dog papilloma is brought on by the canine papillomavirus (CPV), a large DNA virus that only affects dogs.

Although viral papillomas in humans, cats, and even cattle have been documented, viruses in this family are species-specific.

The oral papillomavirus, also referred to as canine papillomavirus type 1 (CPV1) or oral papillomatosis, is what causes mouth warts in dogs. Dogs who have this highly contagious condition develop warts on the oral mucous membranes. Oral papillomas can occur in any dog, but because of their weak immune systems, pups and senior dogs are more likely to develop them.

The following factors contribute to the development of the CPV1:

  • Prolonged corticosteroid treatment
  • Genetic immune weakness
  • Certain age
  • Weak immune system

Since the oral papillomavirus is existing in the wart itself, it can spread through both direct and indirect contact with anything that a dog with the infection has touched, such as the following:

  1. Food bowl
  2. Bedding
  3. Toys
  4. Water bowl

Because common things used by dogs are shared at dog daycare facilities, the risk of CPV1 transmission there is much higher. Given that canine papillomas take one to six months to develop, it may be challenging to determine when or how your dog contracted the infection if they have a mouth wart.

Dog Papilloma Stages With Pictures

Papilloma in dogsThe symptoms of canine viral papilloma include the following:

  1. The existence of papillomas itself
  2. Swelling around the mouth
  3. Bad breath
  4. A change in eating habits as a result of discomfort

Each stage of a dog’s papilloma’s growth can be used by dog owners to track the growth of viral warts. To help you find out what these stages are, we will be discussing each of them in this section.

Stage #1

Dog papilloma stage #1This is the stage in which a little, smooth lesion anywhere around the mouth develops and then grows or multiplies. The lesions that seem like clusters of cauliflower are very easy to identify because of their distinctive appearance. Since papillomas are generally observed all around the mouth, those areas should be clearly visible.

Stage #2

Dog papilloma stage #2At this stage, the papilloma’s surface has begun to take on a textural appearance due to growth. A biopsy is necessary to confirm if the growth is a viral papilloma if it is still there after three months. If there are only a few growths or if it is uncertain from the lumps’ appearance whether they are papillomas, surgery and a biopsy will be done.

Stage #3

Dogs may become uncomfortable and stop eating if an oral papilloma is present inside the mouth and is actively growing. They may occasionally bleed and produce swelling. If the sores are so uncomfortable that eating is avoided, behavioral changes could be observed.

Unless oral bacteria infect the sores, your dog won’t likely exhibit any symptoms. The dog will require antibiotic treatment if that happens.

Oral Papilloma Dog Issues

Dog warts on mouth

While other papillomavirus types emerge on the dog’s eyelids or at the edge of the tear duct, other more particular varieties may cluster in the genital region. The fact that they all result in scaly plaques, dry polyps, or hard formations that grow inward is one feature in common.

The papillomas may be entirely painless or they may produce some symptoms, depending on their size and location. The following are what your dog may encounter when having papilloma dog mouth issues:

Eating Difficulties

This happens when several papillomas develop on the corner of the lips, oropharynx, or palate. Swelling, bad breath, bleeding, and pain can all be symptoms of infected papillomas. If the sores are uncomfortable enough to prevent eating, behavioral changes could be seen.


Those inward-growing papillomas can hurt, especially if they develop inside the dog’s mouth.  The dog will experience discomfort if somehow the wart gets infected and will need an antibiotic treatment to treat the illness.

Bleeding Of The Skin

A papilloma on the dog’s skin could bleed if it is scratched. Puppies occasionally bite the sores that form in their mouths after eating, and these sores also bleed. In the event that they frequently bleed or become inflamed, these dog mouth papillomas should be surgically removed.

Dog Papilloma Fall Off

Dog papilloma fall offThe papillomas frequently disappear on their own because the dog gradually becomes immune to them. Some papillomas may require surgical removal if they have developed inflammation, an infection, or if they do not regress on their own over time.

When it comes to removing papillomas with cryogenic freezing, liquid nitrogen is the preferred chemical. It is sprayed on the papilloma’s surface, where it will eventually fall off. Crushing numerous growths has been found to boost the dog’s immune system, which results in a natural regression process of warts.

Dog Papilloma Treatment

Dog papilloma treatmentDepending on where the warts are and how your furry friend is feeling, the treatment for papillomas in dogs will vary. The typical papilloma treatment involves the following:

  • Surgery to remove the growths
  • Medications
  • Freezing of warts
  • Crushing the papilloma

Most of the time, oral papillomavirus treatment is not essential because it typically goes away on its own, despite the fact that many dog owners want to discover how to get rid of dog warts as soon as possible.

However, if the canine papilloma virus needs to be treated, your veterinarian may suggest one of the following if your dog’s oral warts begin to bleed, grow in size, or cause discomfort.


Cryotherapy, an alternate treatment that involves freezing off the growth of the tissue to remove dog papillomas, may be suggested if the condition develops or does not get better on its own.

Another solution would be surgical excision, although if done just for aesthetic reasons, it should be carefully evaluated because it is an intrusive process that might leave scars and cause other health issues.


If oral papillomas are infected by oral bacteria, an antibiotic prescription will be needed. Dog warts will still emerge despite taking the medication since antibiotics focus on the secondary infection rather than the virus itself.


Additionally, a brand-new oral papillomatosis vaccination has recently been created. It is intended to utilize the virus’ DNA to trigger an immunological response, aiding in the stimulation of the canine immune system to more effectively clear oral papillomas.

Some veterinarians may advise using it as a therapeutic vaccine for CPV infections that have already occurred or as a preventative immunization for puppies, despite the fact that it is still regarded as an experimental product. There are signs that the vaccine may, in extremely rare circumstances, result in cancer at the injection spot.


How To Crush Canine Papilloma Virus

Papillomas may need to be surgically removed or cryogenically frozen. When many growths are crushed together, the immune system of the host appears to be stimulated and helps the tumor shrink.

Does Dog Papilloma Smell?

There are still no reports as to whether a dog papilloma smells but if your dog seems to have a bad odor, it can be caused by certain skin conditions. Skin conditions can lead to the development of smelly lumps and pimples as well as a general bad odor coming from the skin. A dog with pyoderma, a bacterial infection, or Malassezia dermatitis, a yeast infection, will typically smell bad.

Not only should you care for your dog’s skin, but also the rest of their body, especially their teeth. Everything that will come into contact with their mouths can cause plaque buildup so make sure to brush their teeth regularly.

Is Papilloma In Dogs Dangerous?

Dog warts are benign, which means they don’t present any serious health hazards and won’t bother your dog unless they get infected. The majority of dogs show no symptoms unless the lesions become inflamed or hinder swallowing or chewing.

Is The Canine Oral Papilloma Virus Spreadable From Dogs To Humans? 

Many pet owners wonder if human beings can contract dog warts, but the answer is no. Dogs can only transmit the canine species of the oral papillomavirus.

However, although it is rare, dogs can get sick from humans through human influenza.

Dog Papillomavirus Variants

The papillomavirus in dogs can be distributed in a variety of ways, just like there are more than 100 distinct varieties in humans. This includes the following:

  • CPV1
  • CPV2
  • CPV3
  • CPV4
  • CPV5
  • CPV6
  • CPV7

Which Dogs Are At Most Risk?

Canine papillomaviruses are thought to have been present in all dogs at some point. However, if you notice a lump that resembles a wart, your dog’s immune system likely did not adequately respond to the infection. Usually, dogs with healthy immune systems do not get papillomatosis.

The table below will cover the three dog groups that are most susceptible to developing papillomas.

Dog GroupReason
PuppiesYoung dogs’ immune systems are still developing, making them more prone to warts.
Senior dogsWarts can appear on older dogs as a natural part of aging. Senior dogs’ papillomas can serve as a gauge for the health of their immune systems.
Dogs with weak immune systemsThe dogs’ weakened immune systems prevent them from being able to fight against the virus.


Dog papillomas can stay on a dog’s skin for a while, but if they don’t develop or spread, there is no need for concern. On the other hand, if a collection of lesions develop in the dog’s oral mucosa, surgical surgery may be required, particularly if they make chewing or swallowing a bit challenging.