Canine herpes is a virus that can affect adult dogs and cause an infection in the reproductive organs. The infection caused by the canine herpes virus or CHV is also called fading puppy syndrome.
More often than not the infected adult dog does not really show any symptoms of the problem, while the newborn puppies may be affected and may die prematurely.
There is often no warning and a whole litter may die in the course of a day.
Puppies if they are a little older when they catch the infection are able to successfully fight the infection and in such cases it is not fatal. However, even in these cases there are long-standing repercussions from the early exposure to the infection. So it is important to know the causes of canine herpes and to take all the preventive measures possible.
Canine herpes virus is present in adult dogs, both male and female. They are in the respiratory and reproductive tracts and tend to get communicated during direct contact and through the air if there is coughing or sneezing.
Puppies get the infection either from the mother’s birth canal or from early close contact with an infected mother. It is important to note that it is not necessary for every dog in a litter to be infected if one dog is diagnosed as suffering from CHV.
One good way of ensuring that the virus does not spread is to identify the symptoms in the adult dog that is infected by the virus. However, this is not easy as there are not many easily identifiable symptoms. An infected female may have abortions or stillbirth. Kennel cough and in some cases of genital sores can also be indicative of a dog suffering from canine herpes.
It is also important to identify an infected puppy to isolate it right away to limit the chances of the virus spreading in a litter.
As already mentioned, the disease is fatal to puppies and it often results in sudden death. But other than this a puppy that seems exceedingly week or lethargic, one that is not able to suckle or has very poor appetite may be an infected dog.
Discolored feces which can be green or yellow, difficulty in breathing, hemorrhaging from small bruises, indications of pain in the abdomen are all signs to watch out for.
Slightly older puppies exhibit symptoms such as seizures or blindness which indicate that the nervous system has been impacted by the virus.
In all these cases you should follow up your suspicions with a veterinarian – he or she will be best able to advise a course of action on how to manage the rest of the litter or how to deal with the other exposed dogs.
Antiviral medication is used to treat dogs diagnosed with canine herpes. The virus thrives in low temperatures and so keeping the puppy warm and providing a nurturing environment will go a long way in beating the infection.
Dogs are tested for CHV before breeding and it is important to follow-up and make sure that this step is not missed. A pregnant dog should be kept isolated during the high risk period to avoid any infection from an infected friend. This will help reduce the chances of newborn puppies getting infected.
A vaccine for the virus has been developed and it is yet to be licensed in the US – this may be something to talk to your doctor about to make sure that your dogs can have access to it when it becomes legally available.
Some pet owners worry about the disease spreading from dogs to human – this is not a cause for concern as this virus cannot be transmitted to humans.
Canine herpes is an infection that is particularly deadly to newborn puppies and all measures should be taken to reduce their risk of exposure.