Home » Pet Health » Canine Viruses and Infections » How is CTVT Diagnosed, Treated, and Controlled?


Your vet is the best person to determine if your dog has CTVT because they can assess your dog and perform the necessary tests to confirm if the cause of their symptoms is CTVT.

Your vet first examines your dog thoroughly, looking for common signs of CTVT, such as the cauliflower-like tumor, a light pink coloring around the genitalia, discharge, and dead tissue. They will ask you questions about other symptoms your dog expresses, such as tiredness, weakness, weight loss, pain during urination, and disinterest in food.

Your vet might also ask:

    1. If you have recently traveled to high-risk areas with your dog.
    1. If you adopted your dog internationally.
    1. If your dog has been involved in any breeding activity.
    1. If you’ve introduced a new dog to your family.

Once the vet has made a tentative diagnosis of CTVT, they will confirm it by examining the cells. They can collect cells using a small needle and syringe and examine the sample for round cells with certain features characteristic of the canine venereal tumor. They will surgically remove a small piece of tissue if necessary for further microscopic investigation.


If your dog is an adult, is in good health, and is not immunocompromised, the chance of recovery is high. Recuperation is particularly likely if the disease has not spread to the eyes and nervous system and if the tumor has been present for fewer than 9 months. Furthermore, the availability of effective treatments will contribute to your dog’s successful recovery.

Treatment options for CTVT

Fortunately, CTVT is highly treatable. The most reported treatments include surgical removal, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Although surgery is an option, researchers have shown that it is historically not very effective and can result in reoccurrence between 18 and 60% of the time. The recurrence rate may result from cancer cells contaminating the surgical site or because it is often tricky to remove the tumor completely.

Radiation therapy has seen some success over the years. Using a dose of 1500 to 2500 total radiation units (rads), broken down into 400-500 rads for 1 to 2 weeks, or using one dose of 1000 rads, has proven effective. If it doesn’t remove the tumor the first time, you can have it repeated up to 4 times. However, this is a costly treatment, with specialized personnel and equipment needed. It also requires the vet to sedate your dog. Therefore, it is not the most recommended treatment for CTVT.

Due to the challenges associated with surgery and radiation, chemotherapy is the standard therapy choice. It has a high success rate, is easy to give to your dog, and is effective even if the cancer has spread.

Several drugs have been used to treat CTVT over the years, including methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, vinblastine, doxorubicin, vincristine, or some of these drugs in combination. The most effective treatment is a course of vincristine given over 2 weeks, which reports show has resolved CTVT, no matter the tumor’s size, age, or spread to other parts of the body. Studies show that dogs who have had CTVT for less than a year have recovered under vincristine therapy.

There are few side effects of vincristine, and they are usually short-lived, but if your dog cannot tolerate it, your vet might recommend doxorubicin instead.

Some evidence suggests that vaccines can treat CTVT. Although most studies are outdated, one recent report demonstrated that a vaccine, like a vaccine used to control tuberculosis in humans, proved effective when used with vincristine.


Although CTVT is present globally, it is most prevalent in areas with a larger population of stray or wild dogs. If spaying and neutering are possible in the stray population, this may keep the incidence of CTVT at bay. Furthermore, keeping your pet away from strays will also decrease the chances of your dog contracting CTVT.

If you breed your dog, experts strongly recommend that you carefully test the dogs involved in breeding to prevent CTVT from entering the breeding population.


If your vet diagnoses your dog with CTVT, monitor your pet’s activity around other dogs. Provide a healthy diet and exercise to keep their immune system strong, and have your vet check them regularly for signs of possible recurrence after treatment. These preventive measures will ensure your furry friend will maintain a long and healthy life.

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Last Updated: July 30, 2022

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