Canine Oral Papilloma Virus Diagnosis

Dogs are often able to develop a disease known as canine oral papilloma, also known as oral warts. Papillomas are small tumors that are caused by a virus, but they are almost always benign. In puppies, the oral papilloma virus shows up as small patches of what look like cauliflower. In older dogs, these warts resemble the jagged surface of a sea anemone. It is usually obvious if your dog is suffering from canine oral papillomas. The warts will be visible on the lips, gums and throat. There are cases where dogs and puppies find difficulty breathing and swallowing, but these cases are very rare. These cases will require surgery to remove the warts from the mouth.

The Danger

Normally, canine oral papilloma is not dangerous and has no negative effects on the infected dog. There have been only two cases where these benign tumors became malignant and required serious surgery. These warts can also become infected with bacteria that lives in the mouth of the dog. For these cases, antibiotics are required. You can tell they are swollen if the warts are large, puffy and extremely red. Normally you can just have to wait for the warts to go away on their own. This requires the dog's immune system developing and maturing. This process can take around one to five months, so you just have to monitor the papilloma during this time.


The oral papilloma virus is transmitted from a dog coming in contact with an infected dog. Transmission can also occur if your dog enters an area where an infected dog has recently been. The virus will incubate in the dog for roughly one to two months. It is not contagious between species, so only dogs can catch it. Generally, a dog has to have a poor or underdeveloped immune system to become infected with this virus. This is why you will often seen puppies and adolescent dogs with it. Be sure to vaccinate your dog regularly, because being proactive is much more effective than being reactive. Treatment can be expensive and costly, so it is always better to try and prevent any needed medication actions.


Most cases of canine oral papilloma require no treatment. You simply have to wait for the warts to recede and disappear on their own. There are times when the warts become so great in number and size that they cause food digestion to become a problem for the dog. These warts need to be surgically removed, or frozen and taken out of the throat. Destroying some of the growths through surgery can stimulate the dog's immune system. This will increase the recovery rate, and it will help to ensure that your dog does not have any further problems with consuming food. In very extreme cases, you can collect the removed warts and turn them into a vaccine for the dog. This vaccine will be targeted to your dog's specific virus. You should never attempt the removal of these warts without professional help.