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White Spots or Bumps on Dogs’ Lips: What They Are & What To Do

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Finding a new white bump or spot on your dog’s lips will always be a cause for concern. In my veterinary clinic, we see at least one dog a day with a new lump that is worrying their owner.

A new white spot on a dog’s lip can be a number of things, so lets take a closer look at what we may be dealing with. While some bumps can be monitored, others would need specific veterinary treatment.

My dog has new white bumps or spots on lips. What could it be?

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. The reason the warts appear here is because the dog becomes infected when sniffing and licking the face of another dog with warts.

Warts 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. They can grow on gums, lip and skins and look fleshy.

If a dog catches a wart on its claw or a bush or toy, it would bleed and may even become infected. However, this is not especially common and most warts cause no bother. Click her to view more pictures of dog warts (papilloma).

white wart on a dog's lip

2. A tick

Some ticks will be an off white or grey white colour, and can be mistaken for a growth by an inexperienced owner. They are smooth and shiny on the surface and, 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. View more pictures of ticks on dogs.

WATCH: 3 Important Tips To Care For an Old Dog [VET VIDEO]

3. A pustule

An infected blister that is pus-filled may appear white, yellow or green. We tend to see these pustules in dogs who have skin allergies and/or dog acne. As well as the pustules, we can see skin redness and a dog tends to be itchy. In some cases, the skin is visibly swollen.

closeup of a young pug's face with many white spots on lips and chin due to dog acne

Without treatment, bacterial infections can worsen and spread so it is wise to be on the ball when a pustule is seen. A vet may take a swab and treatment generally consist of antibiotics and local washes. If the skin is very inflamed, steroids may be issued too. 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 fleshy pink colour and can grow anywhere on the body, including near the mouth. Skin tags are slow growing and hang loosely from the body.

skin tag o dog's lip

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 cause any pain. View more pictures of skin tags and learn about the differences between skin tags and warts.

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.

Is there anything I can try at home to help my dog?

What action needs to be taken 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.

If you do find a tick on your dog’s lips, this can be removed from home. Use a tweezers or tick remover to twist the tick off (learn more). As it will still be alive, kill it by putting it into an egg cup of ethanol. This ensures it won’t re-attach to you or your dog. It is important not to squish it, as this can be a way infection is spread.

There is no need to try any at-home treatments for warts or skin tags, as they should 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). Warts also tend to shrink and resolve, with most gone by 3 months after diagnosis.

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.

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.

Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.

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.

Cost estimates

A tick remover costs a few dollars, so certainly won’t break the bank! The cost to have a vet check over any warts or skin tags, should just be the cost of the consult: about $40-60.

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.


  • Dr. Linda Simon, Veterinarian

    Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS) has 10 years of experience as a veterinarian. She is a veterinary surgeon with a special interest in geriatric patient care, dermatology and endocrinology. She is a member of the British Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. She graduated top of her class from UCD School of Veterinary Medicine in Dublin in 2013. Linda has also worked as a locum vet in a range of clinics, including 24 hour emergency clinics and busy charity clinics.

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