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Can dogs get STDs?


Dirty, dirty dog! Dogs can indeed get sexually transmitted diseases: either transmissible venereal tumor (TVT) or brucellosis. TVT is a type of cancer that is spread by licking, sniffing, or sexual contact between dogs. Sound familiar? I hope not! TVT is mostly commonly seen in the southern states where climates are more temperate and where there is a larger free-roaming dog population (they don’t call it the dirty south for nothing!). TVT can result in cancerous masses forming on the penis tip, prepuce, vulva, vagina, or mouth. While it is technically a type of cancer, it is sexually transmitted and can be treated with success. TVT responds well to chemotherapy with over a 90% cure rate. And don’t worry – TVT can’t spread to you.

Another type of STD is brucellosis. This is caused by a bacteria called Brucella canis and is often spread by breeding/sexual contact, fetal membranes/placenta exposure, or passing through the birth canal. B. canis can also be spread in blood and urine, although this is usually less common. Aborted tissues have large numbers of B. canis, so gloves should always be donned if your bitch is having a litter. Symptoms of brucellosis include swollen testicles, a painful scrotum, increased lymph nodes, or abortion in females. Treatment for brucellosis includes long-term antibiotics such as high-dose doxycycline. Unfortunately, this one can spread to humans, and is most common following human contact with an aborting bitch.

Material from It's a Dog's Life... but It's Your Carpet, available at Amazon.com. Copyright © 2008 Justine Lee Veterinary Consulting, LLC.

Biography: Dr. Justine Lee is a veterinary emergency critical care specialist and the author of It’s a Dog’s Life… but It’s Your Carpet: Everything you ever wanted to know about your four-legged friend and It’s a Cat’s World… You Just Live In It: Everything you ever wanted to know about your furry feline.   


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