By Cerdy G. Deloso, DVM, Veterinarian, Deloso Veterinary Clinic
A transmissible venereal tumor, also known as TVT, is a sexually transmitted disease in dogs.
High incidents of tvt cases are recorded in cities where intact dogs (not spayed or neutered) roam freely and mate indiscriminately.
Clinical signs of this disease include:
1. a red protruding mass at the vaginal region in female dogs;
2. blood dripping from the genital area of both male and female dogs;
3. sometimes a small mass may fall off the genital area; and
4. frequent licking of the penile or vaginal area.
Please note that the disease does not only affect the genital area. It may also affect other areas of the body.
How does TVT spread?
The tumor is transmitted through direct contact with tumor cells from an infected animal.
Most of the cases are spread through sexual contact and sometimes through oral contact as dogs like to lick things.
Most animals who are affected are intact animals because they are sexually active.
How is it diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will first ask for a complete history of your animal, how it began, and if your dog had mated with another animal and when.
This will be followed by a complete physical exam and detailed exam of the affected area.
Sometimes the history and clinical signs are enough to diagnose the disease. However, veterinarians also go for a biopsy in some cases to confirm if the tumor is indeed TVT.
How do we treat it?
Prior to treatment, a complete blood panel is established to have a baseline to determine if your dog is fit for treatment.
Treatment includes either surgery or chemotherapy or a combination of both depending on the clinical signs observed in your dog.
Surgery includes the removal of the mass from the affected area.
Chemotherapy includes giving drugs to suppress the growth of tumor cells leading to complete regression. This is given on a weekly basis depending on the severity of the affected area.
How do we prevent it?
TVT is mostly spread through sexual contact, meaning a dog that is not sexually active may not likely contract the disease.
It is thus best to have your dog neutered (the balls are removed) or spayed (the cervix is removed). Fixing (spaying or neutering) your dog is the best method of prevention.