Canine Oral Papillomavirus (COPV)

The canine oral papillomavirus or COPV is a type of skin growth that may affect dogs of any age, sex or breed. The papillomavirus is a wart like growth that will multiply at an alarming rate and may require removal.

Papillomavirus Causes

The cause of the canine oral lesions that have the appearance of warts is the papiloma virus. However, the incidence of the COPV has increased over the past years.

The virus cannot be transmitted to humans.

Transmission of the Papillomavirus

The papillomavirus may be transmitted from other dogs that carry the virus; consequently, dogs that are exposed to dog communities, kennels, or dog day care facilities are more exposed to the virus.

A dog may contract the papillomavirus through direct contact with the lesions caused by COPV. The virus may survive in a favorable environment for up to 2 months.

Senior dogs, puppies or immunocompromised dogs are more exposed to contracting the papillomavirus. Dogs under the age of 2 are most commonly affected by the COPV.

Papillomavirus Symptoms

Once the virus is transmitted, the dog will show no symptoms for up to 2 months; this is the incubation period. If the dog's immune system is strong enough, it may fight off the virus and the dog will display no warts.

The papillomavirus manifests through irregular tumors (typically in shapes resembling cauliflower) and may occur in the mouth or on other areas of the dog's skin. The most common areas affected by the tumors are the muzzle and the lips, but the tumors may grow inside the dog's mouth as well.

The dog may also display symptoms such as:

* Excessive salivation, if the tumor is located inside the mouth
* Bad breath
* Secondary infection in the oral cavity
* Difficulties swelling, if the warts have extended to the throat
* Lack of appetite

Papillomavirus Detection

The papillomavirus may be detected by a vet; he will consult the dog and determine whether the growth is caused by the papillomavirus or is a different type of tumor.

The vet may perform a biopsy and a few blood tests.

Papillomavirus Treatment

The typical treatment of the papillomavirus is through surgery; the growths should be removed, as they may cause swelling difficulties and the dog may not be able to eat properly.

The vet may opt for cryogenic removal, which involves freezing off the warts.

A few studies have shown that azithromycin is a medication that can eliminate oral papilloma warts in canines in just a few weeks. However, the approval for this type of treatment is still pending.

Some vets may decide not to remove the papillomavirus growths, as some growths will go away without any treatment, as the dog builds up immunity to fight the virus. However, these should be monitored. A tumor caused by the papilloma virus should go away in up to 5 months.

Often, the excrescences may grow back.