ISSN 2398-2942      



Susan Dawson

John Munday

Synonym(s): Warts




  • Papillomaviridae family.

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Clinical Effects



  • Viral particles can survive in the environment.
  • Infected animals can shed virus without any clinical evidence of infection.
  • Infections by some papillomavirus types occur during the first few days of life and animals have lifelong asymptomatic infection.


  • After infection virus can either produce large numbers of viral particles resulting in visible papillomas (the papillomavirus types that cause canine oral papillomas and canine cutaneous papillomas).
  • Or shed small amounts of virus over a long period of time with clinical signs only seen very rarely (the papillomavirus types that cause cutaneous pigmented plaques).


  • Microtrauma allows virus to infect basal cells.
  • Most cases develop without known exposure to a dog with papillomas.

Pathological effects

  • Canine papillomavirus-1 causes visible papillomas in or around the oral cavity Skin: oral papillomatosis 01 Skin: oral papillomatosis 02 :
    • These papillomas do not usually result in systemic disease.
    • Lesions typically spontaneously regress.
    • Dogs that recover are immune to further papilloma development.
  • Canine papillomavirus-2 causes cutaneous papillomas Skin: cutaneous papilloma Skin: multiple papilloma :
    • Papillomas can be exophytic or inverted Skin: inverted papilloma.
    • Spontaneous regression is expected.
  • A number of other canine papillomavirus types cause cutaneous pigmented plaques:
    • Multiple pigmented plaques, especially on the ventrum.
    • Pug Pug dogs are predisposed.
    • Spontaneously resolution is uncommon.
    • Plaques rarely undergo neoplastic transformation.

Other Host Effects

  • Immune deficiency is suspected to extend the course of disease, although other evidence of immunosuppression is often not present in affected animals.
  • Canine papillomaviruses do not infect other species.
  • Very rare reports of oral and cutaneous papillomas undergoing neoplastic transformation. Transformation of a pigmented plaque may be more common.


Control via animal

  • It is currently not feasible to prevent exposure of dogs to papillomaviruses.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Numerous chemotherapies suggested to promote papilloma resolution.
  • As lesions spontaneously regress very hard to prove efficacy.
  • Currently insufficient data to conclude any treatment effective.


  • CPV-1 vaccines experimentally prevent papilloma development, but are not available.
  • Autogenous vaccines do not influence lesion resolution.

Other countermeasures

  • As almost all papillomas spontaneously regress, patience and reassurance for the client is the best treatment.
  • Rarely papillomas can become so large they interfere with function and require surgical removal.
  • Pigmented plaques should be surgically excised if evidence of neoplastic transformation is observed.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Rector A, Van Ranst M (2013) Animal papillomaviruses. Virology 445 (1-2), 213-223 PubMed.
  • Lange C E, Favrot C (2011) Canine papillomaviruses. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 41 (6), 1183-1195 PubMed.
  • Lange C E, Zollinger S, Tobler K et al (2011) Clinically healthy skin of dogs is a potential reservoir for canine papillomaviruses. J Clin Microbiol 49 (2), 707-709 PubMed.
  • Munday J S, Kiupel M (2010) Papillomavirus-associated cutaneous neoplasia in mammals. Vet Pathol 47 (2), 254-264 PubMed.
  • Lange C E, Tobler K, Ackermann M et al (2009) Three novel canine papillomaviruses support taxonomic clade formation. J Gen Virol 90 (Pt 11), 2615-2621 PubMed.
  • Doorbar J (2005) The papillomavirus life cycle. J Clin Virol 32 (Suppl 1), S7-15 PubMed.
  • Le Net J L, Orth G, Sundberg J P et al (1997) Multiple pigmented cutaneous papules associated with a novel canine papillomavirus in an immunosuppressed dog. Vet Pathol 34 (1), 8-14 PubMed.
  • Roden R B, Lowy D R, Schiller J T (1997) Papillomavirus is resistant to desiccation. J Infect Dis 176 (4), 1076-1079 PubMed.
  • Watrach A M, Small E, Case M T (1970) Canine papilloma: progression of oral papilloma to carcinoma. J Natl Cancer Inst 45 (5), 915-920 PubMed.

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