As dogs age, a variety of conditions develop. Their gait slows down, their eyes may cloud over, their hearing becomes less and less acute, and lumps begin to develop. The majority of lumps are benign tumors and although a veterinarian should examine each new lump, the majority of them do not need any type of medical attention.
One of the more common types of lumps are dog warts. Many owners complain to their vets that their old dog is getting warts and is there anything they can do to both stop the warts from developing and get rid of the ones already present.
What is a Dog Wart?
There are two types of warts that occur in dogs caused by the papilloma virus. The papilloma viruses are site-specific and proliferative DNA viruses that develop as either benign skin tumors or mucosal tumors in young dogs. Although they are not contagious to humans, they are contagious to other dogs.
In the case of an old dog getting warts, the lumps can develop anywhere on the body although around the toes and footpads and abdomen are the most common areas. Warts most often occur in immunocompromised dogs from the chronic use of glucocorticoids but may be present in any dog.
Old dog warts tend to be small and slow growing, if they grow at all. They can cluster in one area or a dog may have only the odd sporadic wart here and there all over their body.
Care for an Older Dog with Warts
Warts are painless benign tumors and as such are most often ignored once your veterinarian makes a diagnosis. However, there are a few exceptions.
- Warts often cluster around and between the toes. These can impede walking and cause localized discomfort. It is best to have these removed if necessary when they are small.
- Warts can become a problem for dogs that are clipped by a groomer. It is easy for them to get caught in the clippers or nudged by the comb and start to bleed. If this continues to occur, the wart should be removed.
- If a wart grows more quickly then other warts on the same dog or appears to be different, a veterinarian should see it immediately. Some malignant tumors present similarly to a benign wart and it is easy to just assume it is the same as all the others when in fact it is dangerous to your pet’s health and potentially life threatening.
How Do I Treat a Dog Wart?
Generally, warts are not treated in dogs unless they are impeding the animal’s movement or causing other issues. However, they can be surgically removed and some doctors will try cryosurgery. Cryosurgery involves freezing the offending lump repeated over a series of days or weeks.
You can also treat the warts on your older dog with natural products. The safest treatment is vitamin E oil. Simply puncture a vitamin D capsule with a needle and squeeze the oil onto the wart several times a day. After several weeks, the wart will begin to shrink.
Is the wart causing your dog some discomfort? Castor oil applied to the wart daily can help soften the lump and relieve irritation.
Is there any way I can Prevent my Dog getting Warts?
The skin is not only the largest organ in the human body, it is often the most neglected. Healthy skin helps prevent harmful elements from entering the body and protecting the internal organs.
Clean, well-groomed fur helps keep skin healthy and lump free. Bathe your pet as needed and be sure to shampoo the skin as well as the fur. Brushing dead hair out of the coat helps allow more air to the skin as well as stimulates blood flow, bringing more nutrients to the area while removing toxins.
To help maintain your pet’s healthy skin, feed your pet a well-balanced diet that is low in corn, wheat and preservatives and formulated for their age and body type. Avoid heavily processed food and treats heavy in sugar and chemicals.
Another concern is over-vaccinating your pet. Canine warts have been linked to vaccinations. Vaccines are necessary and save more lives then they will ever harm, however, after a certain age, your pet may not need them every year. Ask your veterinarian about measuring the ‘titer levels’ in your pet. By lowering the number of vaccines they are given throughout their life by even half, you are both preventing illness as well as maintaining your pet’s good health.
Warts are a normal part of aging for a large number of dogs. Breed and fur type can play a part in predisposing your pet to developing warts as they age. Bichon Frise, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles and some terriers seem to be more prone to developing warts then other breeds but all breeds can develop warts as they age.