This article was updated on November 17th, 2023
Finding a new white bump or spot on your dog’s lips will always be a cause for concern. In our veterinary clinic, I see at least one dog a day with a new lump that is worrying their owner.
While some bumps can simply be monitored, others need specific veterinary treatment. Furthermore, there could be a variety of different culprits.
So, let’s take a closer look at what we may be dealing with. This article will outline the top causes of white bumps on a dog’s lips, as well as what you can do about them.
Top causes of white bumps on dog lips
1. Oral papilloma
By far the most common cause of white spots on dogs’ lips is the Papillomavirus.
Just like young children commonly get warts on their hands when at school, dogs frequently develop warts on their mouth and lips. A dog becomes infected when sniffing and licking the face of another dog with warts. They are usually harmless and resolve without any treatment in one to two months. Some dogs only get one or two, while others will develop quite a few.
Warts can grow on gums, lips and skins. They look fleshy and can often be white or pinkish. Most warts cause no bother but can occasionally bleed or become infected.
Click here to view more pictures of warts (papilloma) or check out the pictures below.
Here is another example:
2. A tick
Some ticks will be an off-white or grey-white color, and an inexperienced owner may mistake them for a growth. They are smooth and shiny on the surface. When you look closely, you can see their black, spindly legs.
Ticks suck a dog’s blood and grow large and plump over the course of a few days. By about day five, they fall off. For this reason, a growth that has been there for a while will not be a tick.
3. A pustule
A pustule (an infected, pus-filled blister) may appear white, yellow, or green. We tend to see pustules in dogs who have skin allergies and/or dog acne. In addition to the pustules, we often also see redness or visibly swollen skin. Your dog may also appear to be itchy.
Without treatment, bacterial infections can worsen and spread. For that reason, it is wise to be on the ball when you first see a pustule forming. Treatment generally consists of antibiotics and local washes. If the skin is very inflamed, steroids may be issued as well.
Learn more about dog acne and pimples.
4. A skin tag
Older dogs are particularly prone to skin tags. They can be a white-grey or a fleshy pink color. Skin tags can grow anywhere on the body, including near the mouth. They are slow growing and hang loosely from the body.
An older dog who develops one skin tag will usually go on to develop more over the years. They can become quite long and pendulous, but don’t worry—they don’t cause any pain.
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
5. A cancer
While tumors are typically colored (pink, red, or black), we need to consider that any new lump could be cancerous. Cancers are more likely in an older patient. Cancerous growths tend to progress rapidly, and the surface can ulcerate and bleed.
Veterinarian Tip: Masses on the lips and around the mouth of a dog should be addressed by your veterinarian right away as the area can be difficult to remove larger tumors from successfully.
Is there anything I can try at home to help my dog?
The answer depends on which type of white spot or bump your dog has on their lip. Many white lip spots are nothing to worry about, but it is always best to double-check with a veterinary professional. A vet exam is likely required to confirm what those white spots or bumps are.
There is no need to try any at-home treatments for warts or skin tags, as they should shrink and resolve with time. If a wart is causing your dog issues, you can consider having a vet remove them (read our article: How to Remove Warts).
If your dog has pustules, consider bathing the skin from home with a Douxo wash. You can also buy wipes that are impregnated with this wash. This helps to reduce the level of yeast and bacteria around the mouth and on the chin.
Veterinarian Tip: Ticks should not be manually removed at home by owners as pulling them out often leaves the tick’s mouthparts buried in your dog’s skin. Contact your veterinarian for help.
Signs that veterinarian help is needed
When a new lump is growing at a rapid rate, causing the dog bother, or has not resolved within a couple of weeks, it is time to see the vet. A vet should be seen right away if you think your dog has a tick but are not comfortable treating it from home.
Visiting your vet about white spots on lips
The vet consult will include a history taking and general physical exam. The vet will then focus on the new growth, visually inspecting it and palpating it.
In some cases, a vet will know what a new white bump or spot is, just from looking at it. At other times, a biopsy would have to be taken, so we can know for sure what we are dealing with.
If a dog is diagnosed with a white wart or skin tag, these are generally left well alone. Warts should resolve over time, while skin tags should continue to grow very slowly, not troubling the pet.
Infections will need treatment, and this usually includes topical and/or oral antibiotics.
If a cancer is diagnosed, the sooner this can be surgically removed the better. When the lips and mouth are affected, the surgery is sometimes performed by a specialist, especially if the tumour is large.
The cost to have a vet check over any warts or skin tags, should just be the cost of the consult and examination: about $50-100. Any needed diagnostics, such as sampling the mass, will add to the cost.
If a cancer is discovered and surgery is required to remove it, costs vary greatly depending on the patient as well as on the type and size of growth. As a rough guide, lump removal is from $300-1,000.
Related post: Dog with Red & Swollen Lips
Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.