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Treating Papillomas

Doggy warts. Gross, right? Commonly referred to as "Puppy Warts" these are extremely contagious papillomas that can appear on your dog, mainly inside or around their mouth.

These little things are nasty to look it - but rest assured they are typically harmless and tend to go away on their own. The good news is they are NOT transferable to you so there is no worry about you getting warts from your dog!

Every dog is susceptible to getting warts, however the young, elderly and the sick are at more risk. Any dog that is immuno-compromised is extra susceptible to them as well.

So, what exactly is a wart and what causes them?

By far, the most common type of viral papilloma in dogs is near the mouth, caused by CPV1 (canine papilloma virus-1). Viral papillomas are round but often have a rough, almost jagged surface reminiscent of a cauliflower. They occur usually on the lips and muzzle of a dog. Less commonly, papillomas can occur on the eyelids and even the surface of the eye or between the toes. Usually they occur in groups rather than as solitary growths so if one growth is found, you check inside the mouth and lips for more.

Warts are transmitted through direct contact with the papillomas on an infected dog or with the virus in the pet’s environment (on toys, bedding, food bowls etc.). The virus requires injured skin to establish infection; healthy skin will not be infected. The incubation period is 1 to 2 months. This virus can only be spread among dogs. It is not contagious to other pets or to humans!

Do we need to see a vet?

Not likely. They should go away on their own as the dog’s immune system matures and generates a response against the papillomavirus. However, if the wart suddenly grows or changes colour or hangs around for more than a few months, you should talk to your vet as surgical removal/freezing/crushing may need to be considered at this point. If your dog has other symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea or vomiting you should contact your vet or trusted pet professional.

How can we treat them naturally at home?

As stated, these warts are extremely contagious, and if your dog has them they should avoid any contact with other dogs and avoid being in public places where other dogs frequent, such as the dog park to avoid spreading it to others.

Prevention is key and on top of the tips below, be sure to disinfect/sanitize your dog's dishes and toys on a regular basis and discourage them from drinking from "community water bowls" in pet stores and parks as these are crawling with random dog's bacteria!

To treat the warts, the main thing we want to do is boost the immune system! Luckily there are a few easy ways we can do this through diet (remember, 80% of our immune system lays in our gut!):

1. Echinacea is a great preventative for immune system problems such as warts. It can activate macrophages which are immune cells that seek out and destroy foreign invaders. It also boosts T-cell production and chemokines, which help immune cells migrate to areas of infection. Echinacea has anti-viral properties, that offer great support against diseases like dog flu, canine cough, and parvovirus.

When treating with Echniacea, it’s best to use a three weeks on and one week off protocol.

The recommended dose for dogs is 1/2 ml for every 15 lbs of body weight.

2. Bovine Colostrum is the clear, yellowish, pre-milk fluid produced from mother’s milk the first 72 hours after birth. Colostrum contains a substance called proline-rich-polypeptide. It is an immunomodulator. Meaning it boosts an underactive immune system and balances an overactive one.

Colostrum contains a component know as lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is found anywhere that’s especially vulnerable to attack. Such as in the gut, eyes, ears, nose, throat, and urinary tract.

Lactoferrin can stop viruses from growing. It also limits tumor growth and metastasis and kills both bacteria and yeast.

"In pets, colostrum has been recommended and anecdotally found useful for accelerating the healing of insect bites, wounds such as abscesses or ruptured cysts, warts, and surgical incisions. When taken internally, colostrum has been shown to aid in the proper function of the intestinal tract, reducing the severity of inflammatory bowel disease symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. It appears to ease food intolerances or allergies, gingivitis and infectious osteoarthritis. Research evidence also suggests colostrum is effective in stimulating the immune system and as an antimicrobial against bacteria, fungi, and viruses." - VCA hospital

You can find colostrum at your local specialty pet store or order online here

For the treatment of warts, give colostrum for one month and then as needed for a future immune system booster. If you’re giving a powder, give 1/8 teaspoon per 25 lbs of body weight, twice daily.

*both Echinaea and Colostrum can be given a few times per year as a general preventative and immune system booster to keep your dog healthy!

3. Finally, we can treat the wart from the inside AND out with Oil of Oregano,

Oregano oil has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties. But as with all essential oils, oregano oil for dogs needs to be used properly and carefully, with the emphasis on finding a therapeutic-grade product.

Oregano oil for dogs can be applied orally, topically or diffused, but it should never be administered to your dog in an undiluted form. You need to either buy Oil or Oregano that is already diluted or you need to mix it with a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil to make it safe for use on our woofers. The rule of thumb is usually one teaspoon of coconut or olive oil to one drop of pure oil of oregano.

Oregano oil contains two main chemical compounds that work together to destroy pathogens, carvacrol and thymol that attack bad bacteria and viruses.

Topically, you can administer the diluted oil directly on the wart twice per day for two weeks, then take a week off and then repeat as necessary until the wart is gone.

Orally it works as a natural antibiotic and can be given with the same two week protocol to help remove the warts. Making sure again, that the oil is properly diluted (1 teaspoon carrier oil to 1 drop oil) you can add 1-2 drops to their food or administer by mouth for smaller dogs, and 2-3 drops for larger dogs.

*As always with essential oils, they are not for everyone. If you feel your dog strongly dislikes or is negatively responding to the oil, please discontinue its use. Once again, never use or give undiluted oil of oregano on your dog.

It is always a good idea to follow up antibiotic treatments with a round of probiotics to keep the gut system healthy, I recommend the Adored Beast line which you can find here!

Another important part of wart treatment is tracking the appearance and size of the wart. While in most cases these will just shrivel up and shrink away or just fall off, there is always the risk that the wart is actually something more serious.

When you first discover the wart, mark down the date you found it, the shape, size and location of it. (For example - Wednesday March 11th 2020. Left jowl under lip, greyish color, size of pinky finger nail, looks like a chunk of cauliflower) and make sure you are checking it minimum once every few days - set a reminder on your phone if you have too!

This is an effective way to know if the wart is growing or changing. I mentioned earlier but will say it again, if the wart is hindering your dog's ability to eat or function, has quickly grown or changes shape or colour, you should see a vet right away to test for any signs of tumors or harmful diseases.

I hope you don't ever find yourself dealing with doggy papillomas but like sending your human child to daycare and they pick up a cold, if you socialize your dog with others, use the dog park or doggy daycares, you are likely going to have to deal with it at some point and if so, i hope you found this article helpful!

*Please note I am NOT a veterinarian and this article should not take the place of veterinary care when needed. Always treat your dog under the guidance of a professional.

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