Tim Anderson is a freelance writer/researcher with articles published in The Saturday Evening Post, Playboy magazine, TV Guide, and others.
Me and a Dog Named Boo
Right around Thanksgiving in 2009, I bought an eight-week-old Chihuahua puppy from a local pet store.
He was the first dog I'd ever owned, and I named him "Boo."
Being a bachelor and living alone in a four-bedroom home, Boo quickly became my BFF and helped me get through some tough times.
Then, just before Christmas in 2017 when he'd just turned nine, I came home one evening and noticed an ugly little bean-size growth on his muzzle. I became extremely alarmed. The dog next door had died a few years earlier from cancerous lumps that had emerged from various places on his body.
Now, after having this little guy at my side for nine years, I realized if the growth was cancerous, I might be spending my last months with a little companion I'd grown to love very much.
I didn't know what to do....
A Call to the Vet
During our nine years together, I'd only had to take Boo to a vet one time, and that was when he was little and had to be treated for an infection. Other than that, he'd been healthy and problem-free.
I didn't hesitate to pick up the phone and call the vet to schedule an immediate appointment. But with Christmas and New Year's approaching, some of the staff were on vacation and I was told it would be six weeks before they could see him.
So I scheduled the next opening they had with their promise to call me if someone cancelled and they could get me in earlier.
In the meantime, I decided to scour the internet and see what I could learn.
Here's what I found out...
It Wasn't Cancer--It Was a Wart
After reading several dozen web sites offering information, I came to the conclusion the little growth on Boo's muzzle probably wasn't cancerous, but more likely to be a "papilloma," or dog wart.
Papillomas are usually not life threatening and benign. They are basically small flesh-colored tumors caused by a virus. These viruses are not transferable to humans, but are easily transmitted to other dogs. Sometimes the wart will disappear on its own, and sometimes it will grow and spread.
If a dog's immune system is working properly, it will prevent these papillomas from growing. They can be found anywhere on a dog's body: mouth, ears, paws or wherever.
Okay. Now that I realized Boo's life probably wasn't in danger, I decided to see what I could do to possibly help him during the six-week waiting period before we saw the vet.
Castor Oil at Dollar Store
I found many helpful web sites with "home cures" for canine papilloma. I read dozens of testimonials from dog owners who'd treated their dogs' warts with several different methods.
Some involved banana peels, some had used apple cider vinegar, and others reported success with castor oil. I suggest you do some internet research and choose your own course of action. If one doesn't appear to be working after a month, then I'd try another.
I decided to try the castor oil. The instructions said to get a cotton swab and dip it in the castor oil and then apply the oil directly to the growth twice a day.
So I picked up a small bottle of castor oil at a dollar store for one dollar, came home and immediately began applying the oil twice daily as directed.
It took several weeks before I noticed the wart was turning black and appearing to be shrinking. I continued applying it for another week or so before stopping. Clearly something was happening, and with the veterinarian appointment approaching, I decided to stop my home treatment and let the vet check and give me his opinion.
What the Vet Had to Say
When Boo's vet date finally arrived, I took him down for a check up, even though it appeared the wart was shrinking. It had turned a dark color, and I assumed it was dying.
The vet took a look and said he thought it was a papilloma, but wasn't totally sure. He said it might be a type of skin cancer and said he was concerned that it was dark-colored.
I asked him if it were a cancerous growth, what were my options? He said surgical removal was the best choice and in response to my question about the cost, he said the operation, medicines and follow-up procedures would be around $600.
I flinched. I had been in the hospital myself the month before, and the bills were coming in. I simply could not afford another $600 added to my strained budget. So since I'd noticed the wart shrinking since applying the castor oil, I decided to wait another month before making a decision.
I went home that afternoon and immediately began the castor oil therapy for the second time. I loved my dog, but the $600 was something I simply couldn't afford at the time.
And so...I waited and I hoped...
The Castor Oil Worked Great
I continued to dip a Q-tip in a small bottle of castor oil and apply it directly to Boo's wart twice daily. He didn't seem to mind, and would willingly stand up with his front paws on my squatted legs and allow me to soak the wart. I always made sure to reward his good behavior with a little treat.
This time, after three weeks it was gone. It simply disappeared. I was so happy to have been able to treat it myself and avoid any more veterinarian expense. The vet visit had cost me $60, and had I opted for surgery, the bill would have been ten times that amount.
Now I keep a small bottle of castor oil handy. I have also started giving him some animal vitamins to strengthen his immune system, not only to prevent the recurrence of the papilloma virus, but also to boost his immune system to help protect him against other diseases, such as cancer and arthritis.
Boo Is Healthy and Happy Now
As I write this, Boo recently turned 10 years old. Chihuahuas can live to be 20, so I've decided to do everything I can to keep him happy and healthy. When people meet him for the first time, they often comment on how shiny his coat is, or, how frisky he is.
I don't know about you, but I love my little dog beyond words and his health and welfare are always my top concerns.
Let me stress that I am not a veterinarian or expert on animal health care. If you wish to treat your dog's papilloma at home, please do a lot of research and/or contact your vet and ask for an opinion. You can then make a choice as to whether or not you wish to try this. All I can say is it worked great for me and Boo.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2018 Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson (author) from Utah on November 06, 2018:
Thank you Patty! I hope this info can help others!
Patty Russell on November 06, 2018:
So happy for you and Boo that you were able to find and correct the problem. This was a very good and informative read.