In the consulting room we are regularly asked if we want to look at a ‘wart’. Often it is about older dogs and the owner thinks that this is an ‘innocent old age wart’. But we also see them in younger animals. What is wisdom?
What are warts?
In human medicine warts are described as ‘lofty, cauliflower-like, solid-feeling outgrowths of the skin caused by viruses’. Warts can also occur in animals, but these are not always caused by a virus infection.
In young dogs we can sometimes see ‘papillomas’ in the oral cavity that may or may not cause a foul odor from the mouth. Papillomas are multiple wart-like invasions. These are probably caused by a virus and are contagious for other dogs.
In older animals we often see wart-like growth without knowing the cause. They can be innocent, but occasionally they are malignant tumors.
Sometimes warts occur around the eyes and eyelids. They often assume the glands in the eyelid margin. They are usually benign proliferations, but they can cause irritation. The dog can then blink more with eyes, get tears or dirt on the eye. It is important to remove them early. If we wait too long, the operation can become very difficult.
First aid for warts
When you discover bumps / warts in your dog, it is important to go to the vet on time. In some cases, it can make the probability diagnosis on the basis of the clinical picture. Regular research is needed to determine if there is no more to it than just an innocent wart. We will often use a needle to remove some cells from the growth and have them examined (cytology). There are several tumors (cancerous tumors) that may resemble warts. ‘Just waiting’ is not wise.
The treatment can vary from waiting to operate. The ‘freezing’ or ‘spotting’ of warts as we know it in humans is usually not applied in veterinary medicine. In a young dog with papillomas, no treatment usually needs to be set. They often disappear automatically after a few months without requiring therapy.