Q. Our black pug has an ugly, fleshy wart on the inside of his mouth. Our veterinarian says he got it from another dog and that we have to keep him away from other dogs until it goes away in a couple of months. Is there something else we can do to make it go away faster?
Oral papillomatosis is the term for this unsightly viral disease in which young dogs will acquire warts (papillomas) on the mucous membranes of their mouths.
Dogs will become infected after direct contact with another infected dog’s oral papillomas, but indirect transmission via items affected dogs have touched with their mouths is also possible.
The incubation period for oral warts is typically at least two months and may be as long as six months. Because he could have gotten it from the groomer, the trainer or shared toys, it’s almost impossible to find the source of the infection in most cases.
Luckily, these warts usually resolve by themselves, and once they do, the dog is considered immune to reinfection. (The disease is not considered transmissible to humans or other species of pets.)
Unless they interfere with chewing or swallowing or become infected, the warts don’t usually require treatment. If they do, surgery or cryosurgery (freezing) may be in order.
Is there anything else you can do to make them go away faster? Maybe. Dosing with interferon has been used in severe cases, but it’s considered expensive and inconsistent. A topical medication called imiquimod is available, and the antibiotic azithromycin may be effective, though it requires more research.
Finally, crushing the warts, if few in number or solitary (like your dog’s) may be effective. Talk to your vet about all of these options.
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.