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From cancer to AIDS, we’ve discovered that our canine companions can contract a lot of illnesses. That’s why I feel it’s important to discuss whether your dog can contract herpes.
The short answer is yes – it’s actually quite common in adult dogs, and easy to spread. I’ll be going over the hows and whys, as well as a couple of tips to help keep your puppies safe from this surprisingly serious disease.
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So can your dog contract herpes?
Yes, although it’s different from the human herpes virus. This means that it cannot pass to humans. Canine Herpes Virus (CHV) is also known by another name, “fading puppy syndrome”. This is due to the fact that it is most dangerous to newborn puppies.
CHV is transmitted both sexually and through the respiratory tracts, meaning that your dog can contract herpes through sneezing, sniffing, coughing, nosing, and sexual activities.
For puppies, it’s usually contracted during birth, in the birth canal, or from secretions from the nose or saliva from their mother. But just because one puppy is infected, it doesn’t mean they all are. However, one infected puppy can infect the rest of the litter, so be careful.
How is herpes diagnosed in canines, and what are the symptoms?
Unless you take your dog to a breeder vet (who checks for CHV regularly), or your vet has reason to suspect it, CHV is hard to diagnose in adult dogs as there’s very little in the way of outward signs or symptoms. If you think your dog may have CHV, simple bloodwork can be done.
There are some things you can watch out for in your adult dogs. Symptoms range from:
- Kennel cough
- Sudden pregnancy loss
- On rare occasion, raised sores on their genitals
- Or even no symptoms at all
In puppies, there are many symptoms. They are all very fast-acting, so if you suspect that your puppies may be suffering from canine herpes, contact your vet immediately. Symptoms include:
- Your puppy lacks appetite or has little-to-no suckle reflex
- Painful, sore abdomen and/or abdominal bloating and bruising
- Newborn puppies dying suddenly
- Lethargy and general weakness
- Persistent whining
- Nasal discharge and difficulty breathing
- Hemorrhages, including small bruises and nosebleeds
- Feces that are yellow-green and soft
- Puppies being cold to the touch.
In older puppies, you might see abnormalities in the nervous system, such as seizures and blindness.
How is it treated, and how can I prevent it?
When caught early enough, vets can diagnose puppies with CHV and begin treatment, which includes antiviral medicines and supportive care. It is crucial to keep your puppy warm during their treatment, as CHV thrives in low body temperatures.
In terms of preventative measures, sadly there isn’t a lot that can be done. The canine herpes virus is very common in adult dogs.
To keep your pups safe from the disease, your best bet is to isolate your momma dog away from other dogs, as puppies are at their highest risk during late pregnancy, delivery, and the first three weeks of life. After three weeks, puppies can regulate their body temperatures and will be able to fever the virus into submission.
A canine herpes vaccine does exist, however it’s not licensed for use in the US just yet.
CHV can be a very serious illness, and you should take your doggie to the vet ASAP if you suspect that she has it. But don’t limit their fun or play times with them – it’s generally harmless to adults, and there are some preventative measures to keep your little pups safe! Just be vigilant with their care, and all should be well.
Do you have any experience with CHV? Have any tips or advice? Share your stories in the comments section below.