Moles and warts can pose a risk to your dog's health, but in most cases, these skin lesions are harmless. Cancer is the main concern when dealing with skin lesions, but malnourishment and infections are also a concern. Consult with your dog's veterinarian to determine the risk of your dog's moles or warts.
Warts are passed from dog-to-dog when an uninfected dog comes in contact with an infected dog or catches the virus in the infected dog's environment. Warts, or viral papillomas, usually are harmless with little to no impact on a dog's health. If your dog has a large number of oral papillomas, eating and drinking can cause significant pain and lead to malnourishment. There are only two published cases where warts have developed into cancer, according to Veterinary Partner. Oral papillomas have an increased risk of infection due to bacteria of the mouth.
Moles are caused by an uncontrollable development of cells. As with human moles, most moles on dogs are harmless. Cancerous moles often have irregular borders and occasionally bleed, but even benign moles can look suspicious. Some moles have a cauliflower appearance that resembles warts, but actually are skin carcinomas. Melanoma typically develops from an older mole, so it's important to observe moles for changes on a regular basis.
Viral papillomas cannot be transferred to humans, so it's unnecessary to isolate the dog from your family, but do keep the dog separate from uninfected dogs. Warts are most common in young dogs with immature immune systems. The warts usually disappear without treatment as the immune system matures. If the warts resist the immune system, the warts can be removed surgically or frozen. A bacterial infection secondary to oral papillomas usually is treated with a course of antibiotics.
Managing Suspicious Moles
A vet will observe a skin lesion that is changing shape, changing colors or growing larger. The mole is removed through a biopsy and tested by the veterinarian to determine if the mole is cancerous. If cancer is diagnosed, the cancer will be typed and staged to help the veterinarian choose an appropriate path for treatment. In most cases, the cancer is removed, but if organs are involved, chemotherapy is recommended without surgery. Prolonged sun exposure increases your dog's risk for skin cancer, so be sure there are shaded areas in your dog's outdoor environment. Although warts turning into cancer is extremely rare, prompt treatment of warts can reduce your dog's risk for skin cancer.
Melissa McNamara is a certified personal trainer who holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and communication studies from the University of Iowa. She writes for various health and fitness publications while working toward a Bachelor of Science in nursing.