Canine Herpes Virus

Canine herpes virus (CHV) is a common systemic viral infection in dogs that can cause a variety of symptoms, including respiratory disease, eye problems, and genital ulcers. CHV is also the leading cause of fading puppy syndrome, a condition that often leads to miscarriage/abortion, stillborn puppies or the death of newborn puppies. CHV can be found in dogs, wolves, and coyotes and is not infectious to humans. It's transmitted through direct contact, which is why I do not to allow my pregnant dogs to leave home, or other dogs to to come visit our home.

Adult dogs with healthy and fully developed immune systems typically show no symptoms from CHV infection and have no lasting effects. Older dogs may have kennel cough-type symptoms.

However, in puppies it is very severe and often fatal, particularly in puppies 3 weeks old or younger.

Symptoms of CHV in Puppies

The incubation period for CHV is 2-10 days. During this time, puppies may appear healthy and show no signs of illness. However, once the illness begins, symptoms can develop quickly and include:

* Fever

* Respiratory distress

* Discharge from the eyes or nose

* Loss of appetite

* Depression

* Diarrhea

* Vomiting

Mortality is high in young puppies

The disease hits quickly in young puppies and they can die within a day of onset. Even if they survive, puppies can suffer from irreversible damage to kidney, liver, brain, and lymph nodes and puppies that survive often exhibit neurological symptoms or blindness.

While there is no cure for CHV, prompt treatment can help relieve symptoms and improve the chances of survival for affected puppies, although treatment isn't usually very effective. Whelping bitches (female dogs who have recently given birth) should be closely monitored for signs of CHV infection, as they are at an increased risk of passing the virus on to their litter.

Young puppies can not maintain their own body temperature well, and this allows the CHV to infect them. The cooler the body temperature, the easier it is for the virus to replicate, which is why younger puppies are at higher risk.

Your best protection for your puppies is to keep pregnant dogs away from all other dogs during their last trimester and the first 3 weeks after puppies are born. You should also ensure you have good biosecurity procedures for those in contact with puppies, including shoe baths, hand washing and not allowing visitors.