Some people read Rolling Stone. Others read National Geographic. On the rare occasion we have a quiet moment in the clinic, my staff likes to read Veterinary Dermatology.
Now, I know lots of veterinarians are less than excited about this particular aspect of practice. Ear infections aren’t sexy, they say, not like, say, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or immune mediated hemolytic anemia. Bo-ring, they ho-hum over a flea allergy dermatitis while hoping a nice cranial cruciate ligament tear limps in the door next.
Pshaw, I say. Maybe there are less opportunities for invasive surgical interventions or emergency critical care hospitalizations, but if you’re looking for the WOW factor it’s hard to beat toxic epidermal necrolysis (google it, if you dare.)
So my staff has learned, while paging through my color atlas oohing and aahing over the close-ups of papillomas, mycosis fungoides, and assorted erosive lesions. They can be dramatic. They can be fascinating. They can be flat out hideous.
I left the book open to the page on Transmissible Venereal Tumors today, which triggered an impromptu sex ed lesson in the treatment area.
“Wait a minute,” said one tech. “Are you saying there is actually a sexually transmitted disease in dogs?”
“Yes,” I replied with an ominous tone. “Several, actually. But this one is the grossest looking.”
We stared at the pictures of the angry bloody red masses hanging off the unfortunate subject’s prepuce. “I’m always looking for reasons to try and convince owners to spay and neuter,” she said in wonder. “I never knew about THIS.”
For sheer shock value, yes, it beats some of the more traditional arguments in favor of spays and neuters. We live in an increasingly blase society. We should take advantage of every opportunity we can.
HEY KIDS, SPAY AND NEUTER OR YOUR DOG COULD CATCH THE COOTCHIE CANCER. I don’t know why this hasn’t caught on.
Eric Goebelbecker says
At first I thought “What a clever title for a post!”, ’cause it is. But honestly how could you resist putting “Cootchie Cancer” up there?
I may steal this. Just so you know.
Hmmm…good (I think) to know. Can’t imagine that would be fun to treat! Makes me even more thankful to be one of the wise ones who spays/neuters my pets ASAP. Hey kids, adopt from a shelter! They will spay/neuter for you before you even bring the pet home, and you won’t have to worry about things like this! 😉
Lisa W says
You can make almost anything funny! If I hadn’t already spayed and neutered mine, the threat of them catching cootchie cancer would certainly inspire me!
I didnt know that! Does this apply to cats too?? Of course my little boy is neutered but just wondering.
Fortunately TVT is much more prevalent in 3rd world countries than it is in the US. Not to say it DOESN’T happen here – it certainly is another good reason to spay and neuter your pets. My friends who went to Ross University saw it a lot in the feral dog population on St. Kitts in the Caribbean.
Another cool/weird thing about the disease is it isn’t like other transmissible cancers like, say, papillomas or feline leukemia (caused by a virus), TVT is its own entity – the cells themselves are the infectious agents, so the tumor formed is not genetically related to the dog on which it forms.
TVT is a coochie cancer in dogs only. But I would think avoiding aggression and urine spraying, as well as late night yowling associated with female cats in heat is enough to get them spayed or neutered, but that’s just me 🙂
Shauna (Fido & Wino blog) says
Holy… oh my… GAWD… I went & clicked on that link… oi, oi, oi… I had no idea… eweweewewewewew.
Thank you for sharing though :). I am TOTALLY telling EVERYONE. 🙂
Dr. Sarah says
We frequently see it in Mexico, too. My own dog (a rescue from Tijuana) developed it a few months after I rescued her. Fortunately it’s fairly treatable with chemotherapy, but an unpleasant disease nonetheless.
There is a similar disease wiping out Tasmanian devils right now — facial tumor disease. Like TVT, the tumors themselves are infectious, not caused by a virus or bacteria.
Dr. V says
Obviously our proximity to the border make a difference, but yep, we see it not uncommonly here. And that is question number one: Have you guys, uh, been to Mexico lately?
Dr. Sarah says
I was wondering about that — we don’t see it much at all up in North County, but perhaps the closer to the border you are the more cases you get?