Warts are about as common on dogs as they are on people, and as your dog gets older, their chances of developing warts increases slightly. Warts can pop up more or less anywhere on the body of the dog, and often will be no real problem at all, to the point that your dog may not even be aware of them-but in certain locations, they can cause a whole host of potential problems that can have various different effects on your dog.
This is particularly true of warts that develop around your dog’s eyes, which can potentially obscure their vision, rub against the eyeball, and be both painful and irritating and potentially, lead to secondary complications. In this article, we will talk about warts around the eyes of dogs in more detail, including why they might form, some of the problems that they can cause, and what can be done about them. Read on to learn more.
Warts are growths that appear on the surface of the skin, and which often have a core that can be very firmly rooted in the upper layers of the epidermis, being fed by the capillaries that serve the skin. This means that they cannot simply be scraped from the surface of the skin and will potentially bleed quite heavily if cut or damaged.
Warts are viral in nature, and are caused by a strain of papillomavirus, which has many different species-specific variants, most of which will not cross the species divide. This means that you cannot catch warts from your dog, nor can your family pass on human warts to your dog in turn! However, warts are contagious between dogs, and so dogs can of course catch warts from each other.
Whilst warts can of course be unsightly, and it is worth getting them checked out by your vet to confirm diagnosis and ensure that they are not something more serious, they tend to go away on their own over time in otherwise healthy dogs, as the body eventually clears the infection. However, immune-compromised dogs and those that are otherwise not in perfect health are more likely to catch them, and have more problems shaking them off too.
In order for a dog to develop warts, they must be exposed to the canine papillomavirus strain that causes them, although not all dogs that come into contact with the virus will develop warts. Contact with another dog with warts is one means of transmission, and the virus needs to first enter the bloodstream (which often means contact with a grazed or damaged area of skin) and after this has happened, warts may appear some time later.
The location of the wart or warts will not necessarily be in the area where contact occurred, because papillomavirus is as mentioned systemic in the bloodstream.
Young dogs up until the age of around two, whose immune systems have not fully developed, elderly dogs with weaker immune systems, other immune-compromised dogs and those that are in poor health are most likely to develop warts, as their body will be less effective at fighting off the infection.
Generally, warts that appear on the dog’s skin don’t cause any real problems for the dog, and will tend to go away on their own. However, if they are protruding or in an area of the body likely to get caught on things, your vet may advise removal, in order to prevent potential problems.
When it comes to the eyes on the other hand, warts can be more of a problem, because the skin around the eyes is very delicate and comparatively fragile, and also, because of the implications for the dog’s vision.
Warts around the eyes may affect just one eye or spread to both of them, and you may find just one single wart or small clusters of them. They can vary in size and are usually the same colour as the dog’s skin in the eye area, and may be rounded, or like small, slim tendrils. Warts of this type are generally simple papillomas, although having your vet check them out is important in order to rule out other potential diagnosis such as tumour development-particularly if the wart is black in colour.
Warts around the eyes of the dog can be a problem for a variety of reasons, because depending on where around the eye they are and how they develop, they can affect your dog’s ability to use their eye properly.
Warts on the eyelid may cause squinting because they might obstruct your dog’s ability to close open their eye fully, and warts growing on or around the lower lid can obscure the vision. Additionally, wart growths on the edges of the eyelid may rub on the surface of the eye, which will be really irritating for your dog and potentially, cause damage to the eye. Additionally, your dog is likely to paw and scratch at their eye a lot because of the irritation, which runs the risk of making the area sore and inflamed, damaging the eye, or ripping or damaging the wart itself.
Warts can also cause the dog’s eyelashes to grow crookedly or again, turn inwards and rub against the surface of the eyes themselves. If your dog seems to be bothering about their eyes a lot, it is worth having a quick look inside of their eyelids to make sure there is not a small wart (or other growth) on the inside surface of the lids that will require attention.
First of all, it is important to get any growths around your dog’s eyes checked out by your vet, so that they can make a formal diagnosis and rule out any other condition. If the wart (or warts) are small and not causing any problems, your vet will usually advise that they be left alone for the virus to run its course.
However, if they are causing any of the potential problems outlined above, they will probably need to be removed. This usually involves a small and simple surgery, although this will of course not stop warts from potentially appearing again in the future while the infection is still systemic in the body.