Canine Papillomavirus: The genital wart-relative living on your dog’s face


There’s something growing on puppies in the neighborhood, and it’s not pretty.

Sometimes it shows up as just a little bump. Other times it’s a mountain range. What am I talking about? Canine Papillomavirus, otherwise known as CPV.

The human equivalent of CPV is HPV, commonly known as the virus that causes genital warts and in some cases, cervical cancer. CPV is the dog version of this fun stuff.

Like HPV, CPV is often benign but can become malignant. Many holistic vets believe the warts are a symptom of vaccinosis, an insider term for diseases thought to occur as a result of over vaccination. Warts appear primarily in and around the mouth, and can cause difficulty eating.

More than anything, they’re also horrendous to look at.

I’m a dog walker, and more than half of puppies currently under my care have the condition –and they aren’t all doing well.

CPV is also known as “puppy warts” and is highly contagious to dogs under the age of two. It’s also a problem for older dogs who might have weakened or compromised immune systems. While the virus is not normally harmful — healthy pups can clear the warts in a month or two –occasionally a dog’s immune system isn’t able to shed the infection. This is when the ulcerated warts turn very ugly –and garner more attention than any dog owner would like. The wrong king of attention.

In the worst cases, it’s hard to get more than a few feet without someone gawking at my poor charge, and then crossing the street to get away. This is bad news from a behavioral standpoint. It means that these puppies don’t get to have all those nice human interactions that young dogs so often get in public thanks to puppy-hungry strangers — the kinds of positive interactions that can help them form good associations with all kinds of people. Instead, during their impressionable first months, their deformed faces mean less opportunities for the sort of socialization that can curb many future behavior problems.

Most cases, fortunately, don’t get as bad as the worst cases I’ve seen. The French Bulldog pictured is a client of mine who has numerous open and bleeding sores, thanks to the fact that the papilloma’s have ulcerated. This could lead to other complications and infection, but there is little vets can do. The warts that were frozen off grew back immediately.

If your pup does come down with the virus, there are some inexpensive homeopathic remedies. A simple and easy remedy is Vitamin E oil, which you can rub onto the warts topically to reduce both the size of the wart and the discomfort it can cause. Only Natural Pet Immune Strengthener is a great product a colleague of mine used as soon as two warts popped up on her puppy. The warts cleared in three weeks. I started my new puppy Grayson on this product as a preventative measure since so many of his puppy friends are currently battling CPV. Thuja, which is available as in ointment, pill or droplet form, has also been known to help the immune system battle warts that are one symptom of over-vaccination.

The best treatment? Prevention. Prevention means getting your dog checked early and not letting an infected pup have physical contact with any other pups under the age of two. Somehow, many of the vets in my area are neglecting to inform owners not to socialize infected dogs. CPV has a long incubation period and can be spread before warts appear.

As a  dog owner, it’s good practice to always have lumps and bumps checked out by a veterinarian. If your dog has visible warts, do not let him near other dogs–especially puppies.

This post originally appeared on LaurensLeash.


5 Responses

  1. Eldridge Bonano

    June 21, 2013 8:06 am

    Genital warts often occur in clusters and can be very tiny or can spread into large masses in the genital or penis area. In other cases they look like small stalks. In women they occur on the outside and inside of the vagina, on the opening (cervix) to the womb (uterus), or around (or inside) the anus…,..’

    With kind regards

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