Canine eye warts -- technically known as viral papillomas -- usually appear in young dogs, but occasionally develop in older animals. These growths may show up on the eyelids, including the nictitating membrane -- also known as the "third eyelid" -- on the conjunctiva or within the eye itself. Similar warts grow on the muzzle, lips and between the toes. They may appear on the eyelid or within the eye as single or multiple growths.
The papillomavirus is quite contagious and common in dogs, but the canine papillomavirus won't harm humans. When eye warts occur in older canines, it's often those with compromised immune systems.
Eye Wart Appearance
Your dog might look like miniature cauliflowers have sprouted on or within his eye. While most canine eye warts are rough, smooth ones do appear.
Eye Wart Treatment
Although eye warts are unsightly, be patient and it's likely they will go away on their own. It can take between one and five months from the wart's appearance for it to vanish, but eye warts usually recede before facial warts. Never try to remove your dog's wart yourself.
Even though these papillomas are benign and eventually disappear, it's always a good idea to have them checked out by your vet. There's always the possibility that what you're assuming is a wart is a far more serious growth, such as squamous cell carcinoma. If that's the case, the growth requires surgical removal, perhaps repeated excisions as these tend to recur. Occasionally, a benign eye wart will turn malignant. Even if your dog's eye wart isn't cancerous, your vet might want to excise it if it's bleeding, infected or seriously interfering with your dog's vision.
In older dogs, the warts won't go away on their own. New treatment options include liposome-based therapy. This therapy appears to aid the dog's immune system, so that the papillomavirus stops reproducing. Your vet might recommend prescribing azithromycin, an antibiotic, which has had some success in eradicating warts. Imiquimod, a topical cream, may boost the body's immune response, causing the warts to disappear.