Does your dog have warts?

Warts on a dog are quite common and even more so as they approach their senior years.  They will often show up around the eyes and face, the ears, the feet, the bum and all over their body really.  Owners can get worried about this and do not know what to do about them. They are not the most attractive and they just creep people out.

Sometimes they grow big enough that they are interfering with the dog’s comfort and creating problems, like excessive licking or chewing.  Having them surgically removed is an option in severe cases and other times dog owners choose to ignore them entirely.

What I would like to share is “how to care for them” regardless of whether you choose to have them removed or not.  Warts can get tricky to manage and the subject creates a fair amount of stress with pet parents. People sometimes ignore them and wish they weren’t there more than anything.  But here’s the thing folks, it’s important for your dog’s health that you get active in caring for what is going on.

I’m going to discuss two of the main challenges dog owners face regarding warts on their dog’s body. 

Yes, it’s a bit of a gross topic but it is worth taking the time and writing about it, so that you have some help and support on the matter.

Two Main Challenges with Warts

Problem #1 is that dog owners are worried that a groomer will cut a wart off with their clippers.

Warts on a dog can grow pretty big and they will often look like a big piece of cauliflower honestly.  If your dog has big warts on their body and plenty of them, things can get challenging.

Close up view of a wart on a dog

If they bump the area, if they lick it, if they chew it or if clippers knock into it, they can bleed.  When this happens in a grooming setting owners generally think that the wart has been cut off or lopped off by the clipper blades.  I have seen warts on a dog that will bleed with even the gentlest of touches with my hand.

The smaller warts are a bit easier to manage because my clippers will generally just easily glide over everything without concern.  The bigger ones or the ones that are hiding under excessive coat are more challenging to deal with. When I don’t know what’s underneath, sometimes I can get a surprise.

If my clipper blade bumps into a wart that I didn’t know was there, sometimes that is enough to cause it to bleed.  I didn’t lop off but I’ve bumped into it and THAT caused it to bleed. Nobody ever wants that to happen of course, but it is easy to do.  

Three things that make it difficult for groomers to detect warts and other trouble spots:

  1. Dogs that have a considerable amount of coat on them.
  2. If they have a lot of matting, haven’t been groomed in several months.  
  3. The groomer is not familiar with your dog.

These things increase the chances of them getting a surprise while they are working on your dog. 

Groomers are always watching and feeling as they do their work.  We watch for signs and little clues that may lead us to uncover trouble spots.  But it is always worth taking a few extra minutes and alerting a new groomer to lumps, bumps and warts.  They’ll appreciate you for that as it helps ensure that they don’t accidentally bump into something under there that they don’t want to.  

A wart on your dog’s body is somewhat like a speed bump.  The clippers glide over them typically without a challenge.  But have matting over top of that wart? He or she isn’t going to have the slightest idea of what is under there and a wart under a matted coat is no longer like a speed bump in the road.  

A coat that is free of knots, matts and tangles means the entire process is smooth sailing..  A coat full of matts, knots and tangles is the exact opposite of free and easy. Add in skin concerns like warts and it can be a big challenge to not slam into problems, literally.

Problem #2 is that warts often produce a discharge and will weep.

This can get really tricky for groomers to deal with.  We see it a lot and I think it is because warts gross out the humans and they don’t want to mess with them.  That and I suspect there is a bit of “ignore it and it’ll maybe go away”…..kind of stuff going on.

Photo of a wart with discharge.

Here’s what is so common and dog owners don’t seem to understand.  When the wart or warts weep, that discharge gets caught up and collected in the hair around the wart.  I can’t tell you how many thousands of times I have soaked the warts of a dog in my tub. I’m trying to get dirt, debris, discharge, infection and just nasty gunky yucky stuff….loose.  Get it soft by soaking it with soap and water so I can get the hard crusty stuff loosened and up off of the skin. Then once that debris has been softened up with soap and water, I am able to eventually get things cleared away.

Guess what often happens while I am mid way through soaking and cleaning a wart? 

  1. The wart starts to bleed and we have what was already an ugly mess turned to a righteous awful bloody mess.
  2. We uncover an even bigger or secondary issue hiding underneath.  Wet weepy things on skin can create skin breakdown and infections.  

Now that I have grossed everyone out with this, I hope I have brought in some new awareness and shifted perspectives on the topic of dog warts.  If your dog has them do your best to keep them clean, dry and free of any kind of discharge.

How to Keep Warts Clean

A very helpful tool to add to your grooming kit is a flea comb.  I rarely ever use my flea comb to pick fleas off a dog’s body. I use them to help me get rid of the yucky things stuck in a dog’s coat.  I use them in the eye area, the rear end, and I most definitely use them to clear away the junk over and around a wart.

I soak the area with soap and water.  Work it between my fingers to get it loose and up off of the skin as well as the wart itself.  When I feel confident that I have things lifted up far enough away from the trouble spot. I will gently clean the area with my flea comb.  The chunks of STUFF get stuck in the fine teeth of the comb and voila, the job is done quickly and efficiently. Better than fingers and finger nails, trust me. 

They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My favourite kinds don’t have a handle on them but you get what feels right in your hand.  It won’t hurt you to have a few flea combs laying around, they have multiple uses.

Grooming a Dog with Warts

Have you had a bad experience with a groomer nicking your dog’s warts with the clippers? It’s a challenge to avoid them. In this video, I share the challenges and offer some solutions for prevention.

I hope you found this article on caring for your dog’s warts helpful. What are your grooming challenges? Drop me a comment below!

Big Love,