Media – Warts on Older Dogs

cockapoo in a shirt

Diagnose First, then Decide if Treatment is Necessary

I have a cock-a-poo with several warts. Our veterinarian said to use antibiotic cream but that didn’t help. He did not want to remove them because she is 14. What about using thuja or multi vitamins?

Dr. Nichol:
Everybody seems to get lumpy and bumpy with age. Miss America, the Nichol family dog, has a few beauty accents. We don’t mention them to her, she would only fret. It’s my job to worry.

An accurate diagnosis always matters. Dr. Rebecca Mount, board certified dermatologist at the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center, shared this comment. “The term warts is a misnomer. “Old dog warts” are most commonly benign growths, of the oil glands, known as sebaceous adenomas. A fine needle aspirate (simple and quick) can generally confirm this diagnosis. Since sebaceous adenomas are benign we don’t recommend removing them unless they are growing rapidly or bothering the pet. Some dogs bite or chew at them leading to secondary infection. However, many people are bothered by the appearance of these growths. Depending on the veterinarian’s preference many small nodules can be removed with local anesthesia or under a general if the pet will be having another procedure (like dental cleaning). Lastly, cryotherapy (freezing) of the nodules is a great option for removal.”

Natural therapies sound appealing but a vitamin supplement wouldn’t make a difference for your cock-a-poo, unless you’ve been feeding her a deficient diet like cardboard or sawdust. Research on thuja has shown that it has some effects on internal cellular function but it won’t shrink an oil gland cyst. There can be risks. Essential oils, like thuja, could make your dog sick if she licked it off her skin.

I agree with a conservative approach for sebaceous adenomas, especially in view of your dog’s age. Physical stresses should be minimized unless there is a strong medical reason for aggressive treatment. With an accurate diagnosis in-hand periodic monitoring of small masses is often best. If they get infected, an antibiotic cream would be helpful. By the way, our pets don’t care how they look as they age. We’re the ones who pursue the mindless goal of permanent youth.

Dr. Jeff Nichol provides pet behavior consultations in-person and virtually by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet questions on behavioral or physical concerns on or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.