If you see a small pinkish bump on your dog’s skin, chances are it is a wart. It is estimated that 1 in 5 dogs will develop warts in their lifetime.

There are two types of warts commonly seen in dogs. The first type affects puppies and is caused by the papilloma virus. As it is highly transmissible between puppies and dogs, it is advisable to keep the infected puppy isolated until the lesions are gone. While the sight of warts on your puppy may look alarming, rest assured that these lesions tend to clear up on their own as the puppy’s immune system matures.

The second type of warts occurs in older dogs, induced by a weakened immune system.  Though old dog warts can affect any dog, breeds that are particularly susceptible to this skin problem include Poodles, Malteses and Bichons.

While they may look alarming or unsightly, these skin lesions are usually benign and do not require treatment. That said, when a wart starts to change colour or shape, or grow abnormally in size, it will be advisable to have your vet examine your dog to see if the wart has turned malignant. A biopsy can be done by collecting a sample of cells from the wart and testing it for cancer.

Warts do not cause any pain but skin irritations may arise when your dog bites or chews his warts, causing them to bleed and swell. In cases where the warts are a source of discomfort, growing in clusters around the mouth or between the toes and interfering with eating or walking, they can be surgically removed.