Contributed by:
Howard A. Mintzer DVM
Mid Hudson and Arlington Animal Hospitals
in the beautiful Hudson Valley of New York State

Dealing With Your Pet's Warts

You have discovered one or more warts on your pet's body. These warts, although unsightly, are not dangerous to your pet's health. Most of the time warts can be ignored. However, the few that become a problem can be removed surgically.

A wart is a group of abnormal cells which are stimulated to grow because they are infected with a virus. If the virus only infected one small area of the skin and produced one wart then they could be taken care of easily. We would remove the wart and the problem would be gone. However, the virus that causes warts spreads throughout your pet's entire body. Removing one wart does not prevent others from growing. In fact, it is a rare pet that has a single wart. Most pets are afflicted with multiple warts.

Why then, should we be concerned about warts at all? There are usually two reasons warts on our pets concern us. The first reason is that some warts actually bother our pet. It is very common to find a dog continually chewing at a wart. When this occurs, the wart usually bleeds and eventually gets infected. Most pet owners do not find it pleasing to have their dog leaving drops of blood around the house. The second and equally important reason is that warts can be quite unsightly. It is not pleasant to look at a disfiguring growth on your pet's head whenever he comes to lick you or to sit on your lap.

Now that we know what warts are, what can we do about them? Unfortunately, we can't prevent warts. We have no vaccines to prevent or cure warts, and only surgical or chemical means to remove them. The problem still remains that once we remove a wart there is nothing to prevent it from returning to the spot where we remove it or grow on other parts of the body. Then how do we decide when it is time to remove a wart?

Our criteria for removing a wart are as follows. We will remove warts if;

  1. They are bleeding or are infected, or
  2. They are unsightly and bother the pet's owner.
  3. Your pet is anesthetized for another surgical procedure. This gives us the opportunity to remove warts which weren't bothering you or your pet enough to warrant placing your pet under general anesthesia. However, as long as your pet has to be anesthetized anyway, we can remove some warts which might become a problem in the future.
We all hope that your pet does not have to undergo surgery. However, if surgery is necessary we want you to know that we are quite aware of your pet's age and will use the most modern, safe, effective anesthetic available to make sure your pet does not have any problems while under anesthesia. The entire staff of the Mid Hudson Animal Hospital want you to enjoy your pet for many years to come. We understand that removing warts because they are bleeding or just because they look ugly is important for the enjoyment and well being of your pet. After surgery is completed we expect that you will go home with a happier, healthier pet. Thank you for caring so much about your friend!