Everything You Need to Know About Dog Herpes
Published July 17th, 2020
Here’s a not so fun fact. There are over 100 known types of Herpesvirus that exist in the world.
Not as much as you think. Research suggests that only 8 of those routinely infect humans. One of those types is canine herpes virus or CHV, for short.
As its name suggests, CHV is a viral infection that infects dogs’ reproductive and respiratory tracts. Adult dogs do not usually show any clear symptoms of CHV, but this infection is the leading cause of death in newborn puppies.
The first question you might want to ask is, “Can I contract herpes from my dogs?”
No, you cannot. CHV is a specific strain which only infects dogs, so you should be safe even if your dog has it.
How is CHV transmitted in dogs?
Since CHV lives in the reproductive and respiratory tracts, it is transmitted through aerosol and direct contact in adult dogs. Minor interactions between an infected dog and an uninfected dog can spread the virus. These interactions come in the form of sniffing, nosing, licking, coughing, and sexual activities.
For puppies, they can contract the virus at birth through the birth canal. Another way they can get it is through direct contact with an infected dog shortly after birth. Puppies can also transmit the virus between one another. However, just because one puppy has CHV does not mean the entire litter does.
How will I know if my adult dog has CHV?
These are the symptoms you can expect to find in adult dogs with CHV:
- Occasional genital sores
- Kennel cough
- Most dogs with CHV don’t show symptoms at all (asymptomatic)
How will I know if my puppy has CHV?
Listed below are the common symptoms of CHV in puppies:
- Sudden death of a newborn
- Lack of appetite
- Nasal discharge
- Internal bleeding (bruises and nosebleeds)
- Soft, yellow/green feces
- Bruising of the abdomen or tender abdomen
- Weakness, lethargy, and crying
- Respiratory problems
- Low temperature
How will my puppy be diagnosed with CHV?
If a puppy dies shortly after birth or looks unwell, you should call a veterinarian. Generally, puppies can die anywhere between immediately after birth to 36 hours after.
Before the vet arrives, you should place the remains of the dead puppy into a sealable plastic bag. You should also isolate that far from the rest of the litter.
The vets will likely take the dead body and do a necropsy. With this, they can diagnose the cause of death, whether it’s CHV or something else entirely. Not only that, but they will likely test the remainder of the litter for viral infections.
The best thing you can do for your puppies is to get an early diagnosis so that treatment can start as soon as possible.
How do I treat my puppies’ CHV?
In humans, most herpes strains do not have lethal implications. The same cannot be said for dogs, though. Herpes can have a substantial negative impact on puppies’ body development; their vital organs and nervous systems will most likely be compromised.
Treating CHV as soon as it is detected is extremely important. The primary way veterinarians treat this virus is through antiviral medications and supportive care. They also handle this by transferring antibodies from an adult dog exposed to the same condition long before.
Scientists have developed a vaccine in parts of Europe, but the benefits remain unknown. In the US, however, none have been made yet.
It is also worthy to note that when dealing with CHV, infected puppies will not survive in most cases.
Can I prevent my puppies from getting CHV?
You can take certain measures to reduce the chances of your puppies contracting the virus. These are some measures you should consider:
- Test your adult dog for CHV if you’re planning to breed them.
- Isolate your pregnant dog for at least three weeks before she’s expected to give birth.
- Keep the puppy nest warm, as canine herpes likes to thrive in colder bodies.
Did you know?
Generally, humans that contract the herpes virus cannot rid themselves of the virus their entire lives. Dogs, however, do have a chance of beating it and becoming free of the virus.
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About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.