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Dogs can catch cancer by sniffing each other - and males are most at risk

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Dogs can catch cancer by sniffing each other. Photo: Deposit Photos

Dogs can catch cancer by sniffing each other. Photo: Deposit Photos

Dogs can catch cancer by sniffing each other. Photo: Deposit Photos

Dogs can catch cancer simply by sniffing each other, with male animals at most risk, scientists have found.

A rare and unusual cancer called canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT) can jump between creatures when they smell each other’s intimate areas.

The living cancer cells physically “transplant” themselves from one animal to the other.

Dogs often sniff each other because it tells them about the other animal’s identity, gender, health, mood, diet, and confirms whether they’ve met before, but it can transfer disease.

CTVT is usually transmitted during mating, but sometimes the cancer can affect other areas like the nose, mouth and skin.

To find out what was causing the oddly-located tumours, researchers reviewed a database and found that 84pc of facial cancers were in male dogs, while genital cases of CTVT occurred in roughly equal numbers of male and female dogs.

“We found that a very significant proportion of the nose or mouth tumours of canine transmissible cancer were in male dogs,” said Dr Andrea Strakova of the University of Cambridge.

“We think this is because male dogs may have a preference for sniffing or licking the female genitalia, compared to vice versa.

“The female genital tumours may also be more accessible for sniffing and licking, compared to the male genital tumours.” 

The most common symptoms of the oro-nasal form of the cancer are sneezing, snoring, difficulty breathing, nasal deformation or bloody and other discharge from the nose or mouth.

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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