It is possible that your dog may have canine herpes, but it is not the same as the herpes virus that affects humans. Canine herpes, known as CaHV-1 or CHV, is specific to domestic and wild canids like foxes and coyotes. The prevalence of CHV varies from country to country, with estimates ranging from 88% in the United Kingdom to 22% in Japan. The infection rates are generally higher in kenneled dogs than in household pets.

Transmission of Canine Herpesvirus

Canine herpes is most commonly transmitted through the nose and mouth, and less commonly through the eyes and genitals. In adult dogs and puppies older than three weeks, CHV usually presents as a mild upper respiratory disorder. Symptoms may include eye or nose discharge in dogs, while male dogs may experience penis or prepuce inflammation and females may show vulva inflammation. The signs can be so subtle that they go unnoticed, and in pregnant females, CHV can lead to loss of litters.

Effects of CHV on Puppies

Puppies can acquire CHV before birth, during birth, or through the dam licking them. Infected puppies may exhibit pain, illness, and may die within 48 hours of showing symptoms. The virus thrives in puppies under three weeks old due to their lower body temperature. Placing exposed puppies in an incubator with a higher temperature has been successful in saving them if done before symptoms appear.

The dam’s immunity and passive immunity through colostrum are crucial for protecting puppies from CHV, but exposure to the virus after birth can still pose a risk.

Treating CHV in Adults

Risk factors for CHV in adults include larger kennels, poor hygiene, and kennel cough. Symptoms in adults can vary from mild upper respiratory tract infections to ocular disorders. Recurrence of CHV can occur, especially in immunocompromised dogs.

Detection and Treatment of CHV

PCR testing is preferred over antibody testing for CHV detection. Treatment for respiratory and genital CHV in adults can relieve symptoms, but there are no specific treatments for the virus itself. Ocular CHV can be treated with antimicrobials and antiviral drugs.

Preventing CHV

Vaccines for CHV are available in Europe but not in North America, and precautions are currently the best prevention method. Pregnant dams should be protected from exposure to shedding dogs or carriers of the virus, as they are highly susceptible to infection. Quarantine measures are recommended for dams and puppies regardless of exposure history to prevent the spread of CHV.

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