Canine Herpesvirus advice facts, advice & symptoms

Canine Herpesvirus advice. Causes of fading puppy syndrome.

1. Mar 2020
Canine Herpesvirus advice facts, advice & symptoms

Canine Herpesvirus is a disease that affects mostly young puppies. Herpesvirus is forever – once you have it, you never get rid of it. There s no cure.It is estimated the virus is carried by 70 percent of the canine population. Most dogs enter adulthood having been exposed as puppies, but they carry enough immunity to prevent the symptoms. However, they will shed the virus if they are stressed or if the immune system is compromised. 


Canine herpes virus  CHV), is also known as fading puppy syndrome, is a viral infection that infects the reproductive organs of adult dogs.  While adult dogs infected with CHV usually do not show any symptoms, the infection is the leading cause of death in newborn puppies. Puppies are able to pick the infection up in the birthing canal. One puppy in a litter may be affected, and death may occur abruptly, with little or no warning, or an entire litter may perish within a 24-hour period or over a week or so. If the disease is contracted when the puppies are older than three weeks, it is often less severe. Older puppies have a much better chance of survival, but may have long-term effects of a persistent CHV infection.


Clinical Signs

Lesions and clinical signs depend on the sex and age of the dog.

  • Males don't show symptoms most of the time, but they may have genital lesions – redness and inflamed lymph tissue at the base of the penis. Males may also develop ocular or nasal discharge when stressed, which is a major source of infection to other dogs and to any females that he is breeding.
  • Females that are naïve to Herpes can experience fetal loss, as well as premature birth and loss of puppies at birth or shortly after. The dangerous window for a female is three weeks before and three weeks after whelping. Exposure within this window results in puppy loss. Though a naive female will lose that litter, she will be immune for all future Herpes contact, including against litter loss.
  • Puppies can be exposed at birth as they pass through the vaginal vault. They will develop signs within three weeks of age, and if they make it past three weeks, they will survive. Clinical signs include anorexia, lethargy, and abdominal pain. Puppy deaths are often classified as "Fading Puppy Syndrome." keeping the puppies warm will help their chances of survival. Canine Herpesvirus is considered temperature sensitive and prefers to replicate at temperatures less than 37°C (98.6°F). Knowing this, we try and control the virus with warm temperatures for the puppies that are not showing signs.It is also very important to disinfect! The virus is readily inactivated by disinfectants. 

What Are the Symptoms of Canine Herpes in Adult Dogs?

  • Often there arent any symptoms
  • Occasionally raised genital sores may be seen
  • Abortion
  • Stillbirth
  • Kennel cough

What Are the Symptoms of Canine Herpes in Puppies?

  • Sudden death of newborn puppy
  • Weakness, lethargy
  • Persistent crying
  • Lack of suckle reflex/appetite
  • Painful abdomen, bruising or bloating of the abdomen
  • Soft, yellow/green feces
  • Chilled, cold puppies
  • Respiratory difficulty, nasal discharge
  • Hemorrhages, such as nose bleeds and small bruises
  • Older puppies may develop nervous system abnormalities, including blindness and seizures.




  • How Is Canine Herpes Transmitted?

Canine herpes virus lives in the reproductive and respiratory tracts of male and female. In adults, the disease is transmitted via aerosol and direct contact, including sneezing, coughing, nosing, sniffing, licking and sexual activities between an infected and an uninfected dog. Puppies usually contract the disease in the birth canal or from nasal and oral secretions of the mother shortly after birth. Puppies can also spread the virus to one another. Just because one puppy in a litter is infected with CHV does not mean they all are.



Canine Herpesvirus Vaccine

In Europe they have a herpesvirus vaccine, If importing a vaccinated dog, it's important to realize that this vaccine does not prevent the virus, it just prevents the puppy loss. Vaccinated dogs still carry the virus and will spread it to your kennel. That is why so many import dogs introduce herpes to our kennel yet the import dog does not lose her puppies. She has that immunity from the vaccine that she passes to the puppies in colostrum.


Kennel Prevention

Once in a kennel, the Canine Herpesvirus is tough or impossible to eliminate. The plan includes exposing all breeding dogs to the virus before breeding, which results in titers high enough to prevent puppy loss. It's important to give young females a natural immunity to prevent puppy loss in first-time moms. Talk to a veterinarian who has handled Herpes to lay out a game plan that will help prevent puppy loss in the future.


Can I Catch Herpes from My Dog?

No. Humans are not at risk for catching canine herpes.


How Is Canine Herpes Diagnosed?

If a puppy is stillborn or dies soon after birth, a necropsy should be performed to determine the cause of death. There are many potential causes for puppy death, and you will want to evaluate whether the rest of the litter is at risk and what care is needed. Please call your veterinarian for instructions on how to arrange this.

Adult dogs are generally tested for CHV if they are intended for breeding or if their history suggests a problem with CHV. A veterinarian may check bloodwork to attempt to confirm recent exposure to the virus.

How Is Canine Herpes Treated?

Anytime newborn puppies are observed to be unwell or fading, it is crucial that you contact the vet. If CHV is confirmed, treatment can begin with antiviral medication and supportive care. It is also important to keep puppies warm, as the virus requires a low temperature to survive. Unfortunately, death often occurs rapidly in CHV-infected puppies despite good care.


What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Herpes?

If you think your dog or puppies may have canine herpes, seek veterinary care immediately!




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