A number of common health conditions are almost exclusively passed from person to person via the act of sexual contact. These sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) often have symptoms that also exclusively involve the genital area, and as such can be quite painful and unsightly as well as being disturbing on a psychological level. Many STDs are readily curable, but some can have lifelong ramifications with varying levels of severity. A huge number of humans worldwide suffer from these diseases, but can dogs also catch them?
Can Dogs Get Sexually Transmitted Diseases?
Multiple types of sexually transmitted infections such as herpes can easily be spread through breeding populations if precautions are not taken. If you suspect that your dog has contracted an STD, take them to be examined by a vet as soon as possible, as the conditions can often be uncomfortable and may have larger ramifications for the animal’s health. While the majority of canine STDs cannot be transmitted between species (such as via direct exposure to infected blood), some conditions, such as brucellosis , can also infect humans.
Does My Dog Have an STD?
In order to determine if your dog has managed to contract a sexually transmitted infection instead of some other condition, you should first try to remember if they have been sexually active recently. If they have not, then the symptoms could be due to something like a bacterial infection or an allergic reaction. If they have, then you should look for symptoms such as bleeding or discharge from the genitalia, as well as open sores that may appear around the dog’s hindquarters. In some cases, the genitals may become swollen and inflamed (such as with brucellosis) and can cause the dog a considerable degree of pain, which may cause them to alter their posture and gait. Note that the symptoms will often take the form of some kind of open wound or discharge in order to better spread the disease onto the next victim, so you should do your best to avoid contact with these substances in order to avoid spreading the disease or contracting it yourself.
When you take your dog to the vet, they will perform a number of tests on the dog’s blood as well as any secretions that may be coming from their reproductive organs. This will enable them to determine exactly what kind of virus or bacterium is at work and recommend a relevant treatment.
For more information on sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive disorders, check out our condition guides .
How Do I Treat My Dog’s STD?
After the vet has isolated the exact pathogen responsible for your dog’s symptoms, they will be able to advise you on the next steps to take. Commonly, this will take the form of antiviral or antibiotic drugs, which will kill off the microbes responsible for the condition. These drugs are most often delivered in pill form, which can be difficult to administer owing to the dog’s natural unwillingness to eat seemingly foreign objects. For this reason, you may be forced to conceal the pills inside a piece of meat or other treat in order to entice the dog to eat it.
As it recovers, the dog will have to be separated from other animals to minimize the chances of infection, as even without sexual contact, bodily fluids can still pass between creatures. In total, the dog may need several weeks of treatment before its symptoms are gone and even then, it may not be entirely free of the virus (as commonly seen in cases of herpes).
The vet may want to perform additional testing on the dog after its treatment has been completed, as they may have incurred organ damage due to the effects of the disease. In such cases, the dog can be asymptomatic for some time as the problem grows worse and worse.
For information on the treatment of STDs in dogs from owners who have had to deal with the problem and to consult with one of our resident vets, take a look at our guides to Reproductive Conditions .
How Are STDs Similar in Dogs, Humans and Other Animals?
Many animals, while having extremely different bodies and immune systems, will experience many health conditions in a surprisingly similar way.
Much like HPV in humans, some sexually transmitted diseases in dogs can result in tumors developing in an infected animal. If not quickly identified and dealt with, these can threaten the life of the dog.
Many sexually transmitted diseases will not present any signs of its presence within the first several weeks after infection, incubating inside the host’s body instead. After this period, the infected animal will experience a sudden outbreak of obvious symptoms.
How Are STDs Different in Dogs, Humans And Other Animals?
Although there are several similarities between dogs and humans when it comes to dealing with STDs, there are also some key variations that influence their spread and symptoms.
Although humans will typically be able to identify the symptoms of an STD in a potential sexual partner and avoid infection, animals will commonly not be put off by even the most obvious signs that something is wrong. For this reason, it may be required that the animal is quarantined to prevent the potential infection of further dogs.
Although some STDs are found in both human and dogs, they are typically different strains that do not pose a threat to either species. This means, however, that they can produce somewhat different symptoms depending on the species and the exact strain of the disease.
The owner of a bulldog in heat arranges for her to mate with a dog of the same species that belongs to a local breeder. A few months after the meeting has taken place, the owner notices that their dog is licking her groin much more than usual and seems to be shifting uncomfortably when sitting. The next day, they find that the genital area is noticeably inflamed and decide take the dog to a vet. Once at the clinic, the area is swabbed and blood samples are taken for testing. It is found that the dog has contracted brucellosis, and the vet recommends a course of antibiotics to fight the disease. After several weeks, the symptoms disappear but further testing reveals that the dog still contains the bacteria responsible for the infection. Fortunately, the mating did not result in a litter being produced and the dog is sterilized to prevent the disease from being passed on. The owner is advised that the dog may still be infectious and is given information by the vet on how to reduce the risk presented by the disease to themselves.