Probably a silly question but I’m new to professional pet care, working as a dog sitter and walker, and generally an anxious guy for my own dog. Today I visited a dog with large tumors all over its body, as well as vestibular disease. I pet him, fed him, assisted him to his litter box, cleaned up after him, etc. I have heard that some dog cancers are contagious, are there any precautions I might want to take before I greet my own dog at home?

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It's actually EXTREMELY rare for cancer itself to be contagious, with only three known examples in the entire animal kingdom. One of those examples is Canine transmissible venereal tumour (CTVT), but as I'm sure you can guess from its name, this is normally sexually transmitted, or by direct contact with the tumors, and therefore, as far as I am aware, not a risk of spreading to other dogs through contact with a human.

There are, however, possibly diseases that may greatly increase the risk of cancer that may be contagious through human contact, which could have contributed to the dog's condition. It really depends on the disease in question.

In general, as a pet sitter, you should be taking precautions to prevent the spread of illness, and this would reduce the risk of any of those diseases that could lead to cancer as well.


The basics are:

  • Insist on vet certification that the animals are up to date on their vaccinations
  • Wash your hands, and change or disinfect your clothes between contact with dogs.
  • Disinfect any equipment you use between dogs.
  • Do not put dogs together that seem sick or do not have up to date vaccinations.

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