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Skin Cancer or Wart? How To Tell the Difference on Your Dog

Dog Skin Cancer or Wart? How to Tell the Difference

One day you might be running your fingers along your dog’s body as you always do and come across something that piques your interest. Bumps and scratches can appear on your dog without you knowing how, so they might stand out on their otherwise smooth skin. When you first come across a bump, your first instinct is going to be to grab your flashlight and look closely at it.

Don’t freak yourself out by assuming the worst. Warts can be a common and harmless thing for your pet to have on their bodies. There are key symptoms that you can look for when inspecting these warts to infer if they might be more than just your everyday wart.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between skin cancer and regular warts so that you can provide your dog with emergency medical attention if needed.

Coming Across Something Suspicious

The first time you notice a wart on your dog, it will definitely spook you. You might find yourself snatching your hand away at the idea of a foreign object being on your dog: Is it a tick? A scab? You’ll have to find out for yourself by inspecting it further.

What you are noticing could very likely be benign, but being on the lookout for any abnormality means you are being a good pet parent. It also means that if it is cancerous or life-threatening for any reason, early diagnosis and intervention can improve your pet’s health and wellness.

Not all warts require a trip to the vet, but it can be helpful when you are able to distinguish between regular warts and abnormal lumps. If you think that you are coming across something abnormal, it’s best to set up an appointment with your vet immediately to get further testing done.

Are All Dog Warts Cancerous?

Not all warts that you come across are going to be cancerous. A good majority of them will be nothing more than a regular wart, and you won’t have to worry yourself sick about your pet’s health. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the wart checked out, though – mainly for your peace of mind.

If you want to determine what the growth on your dog is and if it’s a cancerous lump, you will need to get it examined and tested by your veterinarian. Once testing is done to determine what kind of bump your dog has got, necessary treatment can begin. If it’s a benign wart on your dog, your vet might still remove it, but otherwise, your pup should be in the clear.

Benign Warts on Dogs

Warts are small and round bumps that form on top of your dog’s skin. They usually range from a dark brown to a black color and might be flat or raised. It varies for each wart, but these traits don’t mean that they are more likely to be cancerous or not.

It’s very rare for a wart to become cancerous over time, but it is possible if they grow deep into the layers of skin beneath them. Warts form due to a contagious virus to other dogs, though they are rarely life-threatening. Even if not dangerous, your pup might find these warts annoying and uncomfortable.

Cancerous Warts on Dogs

Cancerous warts on dogs will look pretty different from normal warts. They might be large and abnormal in shape. Cancerous warts also will have a bumpier feel to them and might grow at a rapid rate. If you monitor your dog’s warts closely, you are more likely to notice if any moles change.

While you should always consult your veterinarian if you notice a mole, these are of particular concern:

Lumps that grow faster than others

Lumps that do not go away

Lumps that change color or texture

Lumps that are abnormally shaped

Your vet will likely take samples and send them to a lab for further testing if they suspect something is wrong with the wart. They will also ask about any changes in behavior or symptoms that your dog has experienced recently.

If the tests come back with undesirable news, your vet will then come up with a treatment plan for your dog’s specific cancer type and needs. These results will also help determine how far it might have spread.

Should You Remove Your Dog’s Warts?

Not all warts will need to be removed, but your vet might suggest surgery for some. Ultimately it comes down to their evaluation of the wart: How big is it, where is it, and is it causing discomfort to the pet?

Warts can appear anywhere on your dog’s body, and some may cause your dog more discomfort than others. Papillomas are caused by a virus and can come in multiples or just one. All cases are different, but they can usually be treated. Some might not be a bother to your dog, and therefore, a vet might not recommend removing them.

If your vet notices a suspicious-looking wart, they might recommend its removal. Potential options include (but aren’t limited to) having the wart frozen off with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery) or removal with a scalpel.

Vets offer surgery to remove warts or be frozen off with liquid nitrogen, and they will go over the best options for your dog with you.

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How Much Will Dog Wart Removal Cost?

The cost of wart removal for dogs depends on a few different factors. All vet offices will have different prices based on the office’s size, the wart sizes, how many there are, and what kind of anesthetic is needed to be used. Your vet might charge you a flat fee for everything or charge you per lesion. Before you make any decision, your vet’s office will go over all of your options.

Typically, people can spend anywhere from $150 to $1,000 on removing their dog’s warts. If your dog has multiple warts that you wish to remove, the total cost of the visit might be on the higher end than if you were to remove just one. There might be payment plans available at your vet, so be sure to ask.

Ask and Answer: Help Is Here

When you find a new wart (or your first) on your dog, you might want to panic, but it’s best to remain calm.

If you want answers and guidance fast, consider signing up with AskVet. You can get connected with a veterinary professional whenever a question arises. Yes, that means 24/7!

You can join a live chat session where you go over your pet’s symptoms or concerns. Whoever you speak with will guide you through some steps to try to distinguish if the wart you are seeing is benign or abnormal. They can provide you with advice on whether or not to seek further veterinary assistance.

When you join, you can even come up with different behavioral and treatment plans to improve your pet’s health and wellness. You shouldn’t feel alone when you are concerned about your dog, but you don’t always have access to your vet’s office. With AskVet, you don’t have to worry about waiting for answers. Schedule a session with a CPLC™ so you can get back to that game of fetch with your furry best friend.


Current Status of Canine Melanoma Diagnosis and Therapy: Report From a Colloquium on Canine Melanoma Organized by ABROVET (Brazilian Association of Veterinary Oncology) | Frontiers in Veterinary Science

Characterization Of Canine Oral Papillomavirus By Histopathological And Genetic Analysis In Korea | NCBI

5 Types Of Skin Cancer In Dogs | NC State Veterinary Hospital 

Benign Skin Masses of Dogs | MSPCA-Angell


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