Oral Growths in Young Dogs
Recently we have seen a number of young canine patients with growths or
lesions in their mouths. Here is a picture of 2 dogs from just last week.
With “puppy season” coming into full swing, I thought it would be appropriate to
discuss this topic, as it is something that a lot of owners may encounter.
A frequent question we are asked is…does my dog have warts? The answer
is…yes!!…But don’t worry…. let’s talk….
Certain viruses can cause the growth of skin cells to produce what is commonly
referred to as a wart…. or Viral Papillomas.
Viral Papillomas tend to possess a raised pinkish cauliflower-like appearance.
The classic viral wart is typically seen in a young dog around the mouth, and as
such the diagnosis may be obvious. In older dogs oral or facial growths may
appear it may represent another type of growth. In either case, veterinary
evaluation is recommended.
So, let’s answer your questions…
WHAT DO Viral Papillomas LOOK LIKE
Viral Papillomas tend to have a rough, raised frond or cauliflower-like
appearance and usually whitish/pinkish
It may appear as a solitary lesion, or in groups and can be of any size…from
millimeters to centimeters.
They usually present inside the mouth but can also be on the lips and can be
darker in colour if this is the case.
HOW ARE THEY TRANSMITTED
The infection occurs through contact with another infected dog carrying the virus
or from contact with infected items in the dog’s environment (sticks, balls, chew
The incubation period can be one to two months.
The virus is only spread among dogs…it is NOT contagious to other pets or
Young dogs and puppies are primarily affected because the virus needs an
immature immune system to create an infection.
ARE PAPILLOMAS DANGEROUS?
No, not really. Your dog’s immune system will generate a response against the
papillomavirus, and the “warts” will regress. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen
overnight. It will typically take a few months for that to occur. I have usually found
it takes about two months from when they are detected for them to regress, but it
can be shorter…. or longer.
Occasionally (especially with the larger growths) they can become locally
infected or inflamed from bacteria from the mouth, or self-trauma. In those cases,
your veterinarian will outline any treatment required…and speaking of treatment,
this brings me to our last topic on viral papillomas….
HOW DO WE TREAT THIS?
The good news!!…. In most cases, treatment is unnecessary. We simply allow
the dog time to have their body produce an immune response and they
papillomas will simply go away on their own.
There may be the occasional dog that has so many papillomas or some are so
large that it affects their ability to eat. In those rare cases we may have to remove
the problem lesion, again, very rare.
So, don’t panic…they will regress, but it will take time…. and patience!!
Any time you see a growth or a change in your dog’s oral health, it is best to let
us evaluate what you have seen. Best to be safe for your dog’s continued good