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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 18172
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My cocker spaniel - she is 11 has developed a very wart

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My cocker spaniel - she is 11 has developed a very nasty wart on her ear and it now seems to have 3 heads - it is pink and i have been putting vitamin E oil from a capsule on her ear. the vets locally have seen it and just gave me some soluable solution to bathe her ear with. i read that the wart can be due to age and a virus but the vets never said anything about that. someone suggested liquid paraffin. what do you suggest?
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I'm sorry to hear that your girl has a couple of wart like growths on her ear.
The most common mass that looks like a wart in an older dog is a sebaceous adenoma. These are very benign growths of the sebaceous (oil) glands and can be cream colored to reddish or black depending upon how irritated they get. They are very common on the head, ears, neck, trunk and legs/feet. Once a dog has one we often see more pop up eventually. If the dog has the genetic predisposition to form one then they will continue to get them. I tend to remove them if they break open or bother the dog as then they can get infected. Or if they are in a bad spot. They aren't really warts and aren't caused by a virus so don't respond to medication used to treat warts in people. I don't recommend trying liquid paraffin as it is unlikely to work and can cause skin inflammation and a secondary infection if it seals in surface bacteria. There really isn't any systemic treatments that will help. If the mass gets infected oral antibiotics may make it a little smaller, but they won't resolve it entirely.
Dogs can get viral warts but they usually occur in young dogs and are generally on the lips, mouth and sometimes the genital area. They would be very rare in an older dog.
Another likely cause is a benign growth called a histiocytoma. These growths pop up quickly, grow quickly for a month or so and then tend to regress and resolve on their own within 2 to 3 months. They are most common in young dogs on the face, ears and legs and paws. But older dogs can get them too and if they scratch them they may not resolve.
If the dog rubs them or scratches they will hang around longer or can get infected. You can use a drop of cortisone cream on them to reduce inflammation. If they are scratched open I would recommend an antibacterial ointment instead. And I would recommend an E-collar for her to try and stop her from scratching any more. If the bump doesn't resolve completely in 3 months it should be surgically removed as it is unlikely to go away on its own at that point and can lead to a secondary infection.
Another possibility is a tumor called a mast cell tumor. These have variable degrees of malignancy, some can be treated with just surgical removal, some are quite aggressive and will spread deep into tissue and to local lymph nodes. The only way to know for sure how malignant the tumor is to remove it and have it biopsied.
Other tumors that these may be include a basal cell tumor but these are much less common in dogs then in people or a melanoma. These tend to be fairly benign behaving in the skin and respond to surgical removal. A plasma cell tumor is another possibility.
Of these tumors none resolve completely on their own except a histiocytoma. Mast cell tumors will change in size if they are bumped, and then go down slightly in size but never fully resolve on their own.
If you want to be absolutely certain of a diagnosis your veterinarian can perform a fine needle aspirate on the bump. Your veterinarian will put a tiny needle in the bump, draws cells out, and looks at the cells under the microscope to identify them.
If these are adenomas they are relatively easy to remove because they don't invade deeply. Some dogs will let us remove them with a local and the laser, it depends upon how deep they are and how cooperative our patient is.
Best of luck with your pup, please let me know if you have any further questions.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much for your advice - and my dog Sweetie Pie thanks you too! Should i still continue to put Vitamin E oil on her ear?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Dr Kara, i did send you a previous email today but i have mis-placed it! Thank you for all your advice it was appreciated and my dog Sweetie Pie thanks you too. Should i still put Vitamin E from a capsule onto her ear? Thanks

You and Sweetie Pie are very welcome. While it won't shrink the bump Vitamin E will help keep the surface of the growth soft and less likely to crack, break open and get infected secondarily so if she doesn't object to it being applied I would continue to do so.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Excellent, Fuciderm gel is an antibacterial ointment which will keep the surface soft and prevent secondary bacterial infections. Please let me know if you have any further questions, Dr. Kara.