Herpes virus in Dogs


Clinically called as Fading puppy syndrome, the canine herpes virus causes a viral infection in dogs that mainly targets the reproductive organs in grown-up dogs. In most of the cases, the grown-up dogs do not dispose any possible signs of the condition. However, the younger pups are known to suffer a painful death. The grown-up dogs have a better chance of surviving the condition, because of their excellent immune system.

Transmission of the Virus

The canine herpes virus is naturally found in the respiratory tract and the reproductive system of female and male dogs. In grown-ups, the virus spreads, through sprays and direct contact, like coughing, sneezing, sniffing, nosing, licking, and sexual contact with dogs carrying the virus in them.

Young pups mainly contract the disease from the nasal and oral secretions of the mother, or in the birth canal. Pups can pass the virus to each other. Well, if one puppy gets the infection, it does not always mean that the rest will also have the herpes virus in them.

The prevalence of Herpes Virus in dogs

The prevalence of herpes virus is about seventy percent in dogs. Dogs of any age group can become a carrier of the infection.

Signs in the Adults

  • There can be no signs at all
  • Growth in the genital sores
  • Sudden abortion
  • Sudden fetal death after twenty to twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy
  • Canine infectious tracheobronchitis

Signs in the Puppies

  • The sudden demise of newborns
  • Weakness along with laziness
  • Reduction in the appetite
  • Soft greenish yellow excreta
  • Low temperatures in the young pups
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Frequent nasal discharge
  • Seizures and blindness

Can humans contract the virus?

No. According to experts, humans cannot contract the virus.


If a pup dies before it takes birth, or dies soon after getting birth, the owner should call the vet, and arrange necropsy of the corpse, to know the exact cause of death. The breeders generally conduct tests for canine herpes virus, if they intend to breed a particular dog. Testings are also done, when someone senses or doubts the presence of the virus. To confirm a recent exposure of the dog to the virus, the vet can conduct a bloodwork.


If the owner sees or observes unwellness or sudden fading in newborns, he should always call the vet immediately. Some people avoid these signs, and mistakes these symptoms to be anything else, but not an indication. Gestures like these can potentially be very harmful to the dog. Prolonged ignorance can result in the death of the litters.

If the vet confirms the presence of herpes virus, the treatment will begin with providing the dog with antiviral medication. Then the next step will be to provide the dog with supportive care. The owner will have to keep the pups constantly warm, as the virus needs the cold temperature to thrive and survive.


Canine herpes viruses are ubiquitous organisms, which can bother the adult dogs as well as the younger pups. By far, the best and most viable option will be to prevent the dog from getting into contact with the virus. It is crucial to keep the pregnant dog in isolation, in phases with high risks- both in the later stages of pregnancy and in the first three weeks after the mother gives birth. There is a vaccine against the canine herpes virus, but the USA does not have provision to use the vaccine.

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