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Canine Herpesvirus- Symptoms & Treatment

Canine Herpesvirus

What is Canine Herpesvirus In Dogs?

When we hear the word “herpes”, we cannot help thinking about the human version of the disease. Especially, the herpes simplex virus captures our interest. However, the herpesvirus family (Herpesviridae) is much larger and affects many animals.

Canine herpesvirus (CHV) is a dog's own species-specific strain of herpes. Also known as “fading puppy syndrome”, this causes a generalized hemorrhagic disease with a high mortality rate in neonatal (newborn) puppies.

Adult dogs infected with CHV usually do not show any symptoms and are often dormant, but this infection is the leading cause of death in litters of puppies.

When an adult dog is infected, CHV may remain latent or hidden in tissues and may be passed on to other dogs. Transmission occurs from a parent to offspring (fetuses developing in the mother's uterus), oronasal and sexual contact.

The incubation period in puppies is 3 to 7 days, after which sudden death occurs or clinical signs develop.

Symptoms Of Canine Herpesvirus In Dogs

Adult dogs:

  • Often asymptomatic
  • Eye inflammation/discharge
  • Occasionally raised genital sores
  • Stillbirth
  • Abortion


  • Respiratory difficulty, nasal discharge
  • Hemorrhages, such as nose bleeds and small bruises
  • lethargy, Weakness, crying
  • decreased suckle reflex/appetite
  • Red spots on their gums (petechiae)
  • bruising of the abdomen/ Painful abdomen
  • Seizures and neurological signs
  • Soft, grey, yellowish, or greenish feces

Treatment Options For Canine Herpesvirus In Dogs

Treatment is usually ineffective and most infected puppies die suddenly before any medical intervention can be provided. Antiviral drug therapy is generally unproductive.

Immune serum from recovered females (i.e., blood containing antibodies, from the milk of a mother dog that has previously had herpes) may be helpful in decreasing puppy deaths if it is administered prior to the onset of infection.

Preventative measures are the only way of protection.

Home Remedies For Canine Herpesvirus In Dogs

Canine herpes virus is temperature-sensitive and does not replicate in high body temperatures above 37°C. Therefore, breeding of puppies in temperature-regulated heated boxes or in sustained super optimal environmental control may reduce their mortality.

Puppies can better adjust their own body temperature after 3 weeks of age so they will be prepared to deter the virus.

The virus is killed or deactivated by common disinfectants and lipid solvents (such as chloroform and ether).

Isolate the puppies from adults that are likely to shed the virus.

Make sure the newborn puppies receive adequate colostrum (nutrient-rich fluid produced by dogs immediately after giving birth) from the nursing dog with antibodies. This will provide passive protection and also provide adequate energy as well as nutrition.

How to Prevent Canine Herpesvirus In Dogs?

The best way to prevent this disease in young puppies is by avoiding exposure of young puppies to adult dogs and the bred mother dog to other adult dogs.

Always isolate a susceptible pregnant female from other dogs during the viral-risk periods - the last 3 weeks of pregnancy and 1 - 3 weeks after birth.

Vaccination against canine herpes virus?

Yes! There is now a vaccination available in Europe for use (Eurican Herpes 205) and in the US it is not available.

The first shot – is when they are in heat or after mating (7-10 days).

The second shot - 1-2 weeks before whelping dates.

Revaccination - same protocol during each pregnancy.

When a pregnant dog is vaccinated, she will transmit her immunity onto her litter to provide protection against the herpes virus during their vital first 3 weeks.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Canine Herpesvirus

Pregnant females and neonates

Additional Facts For Canine Herpesvirus In Dogs

Canine herpesvirus has a worldwide distribution in canine populations; however, it is seen most commonly in Asia and Europe.

The causative agent is Canine herpesvirus (CaHV-1) with a host range restricted to canids.

CaHV-1 is more closely related to equine herpesvirus-1, human varicella-zoster virus, feline herpesvirus, and pseudorabies virus than to other herpesviruses.

Transmission occurs during birth or in the postpartum period by contact with contagious vaginal fluids during whelping or by oronasal secretions or vulvar secretions.

Puppies can also be laterally infected by other affected littermates by direct contact with contagious body fluids.

When To See A Vet For Canine Herpesvirus In Dogs?

If one of the puppies or a few of them in the litter dies or is sick without any reason, contact your veterinarian immediately to decide the course of action to save the rest of the litter or to prevent puppy loss in the future.

Vets may suggest you perform a CHV-1 PCR to confirm the cause of death, or something else.

The post-mortem tests of tissues from stillborn puppies or dead puppies are also beneficial if a closed kennel is experiencing unexplained miscarriages.

Dog Food Suggestions For Canine Herpesvirus

  1. Leafy greens (Spinach, Kale, lettuce).
  2. High-quality protein (seafood, meat, dairy, or eggs).
  3. Essential fatty acids (egg yolks, oatmeal).
  4. Broth or stock of boiled chicken bones.
  5. Tuna, salmon, cod, whiting, whitefish, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring.
  6. Button Mushrooms, Oysters.
  7. Cooked or raw liver, Red
  8. Plant-based proteins peas, chickpeas, and lentils.
  9. Canned pumpkin, Carrots.
  10. Berries, apples, banana.

How to feed an infected adult dog?

The ratio of 5:1:1 is 5 parts cooked meat, 1 part raw bone, (1 part fresh organ (liver, kidney, heart), or 1 part vegetable matter.

Turbo-charge your recipes, pre-made or DIY with these extras:

When your dog gets hungrier, increase the amount of food she is being given by approx 20 - 30%.

The easiest way to some much-needed energy is by adding Fatty beef mince.

The general rule is:

70% - Fresh meat (beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey).

15% - Organs ( liver) or 15% veg.

15% - Bones.


Herpesvirus is lifelong - once you have it, you can never get rid of it.

The complexity of this virus is really intriguing. Breeders and pet owners must remain cautious with herpes virus prevention protocols to reduce the risk of an outbreak and puppy deaths.

With continuous research about infectious diseases ongoing nowadays, our understanding of viral pathogenesis (such as the canine herpes virus) can only become expansive.

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