The herpes virus in dogs is technically called the CHV-1, or canine herpes virus. It's a common virus and can be found in dogs all over the globe. As many as one out of every two dogs have been exposed to the virus and may be carrying it. Older dogs can usually recover quite easily from the virus, but they'll always have the virus present in their bodies, even if it's not active. The canine herpes virus can cause problems when they have puppies, though.
Some symptoms that may be present if your dog has the canine herpes virus are crying, weakness, discharge from the nose, depression, anorexia, pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, infertility, lesions on the penis for males, abortion in females, soft yellow feces, or loss of a sucking reflex.
Identification in puppies
If your puppy contracts the canine herpes virus, it will take three to seven days to start seeing the effects. One of the first things you may notice in your litter of puppies, if infected, is that they won't be as interested in nursing as they should be. You should be able to tell they "just don't feel good". They are uncomfortable, seem to be in pain, may tend to vomit often, and they may have shallow breathing. They could have nose or eye discharges or have the yellow feces mentioned above. In some cases, they could have hemorrhages on their gums or suffer from seizures. If puppies are very young, they can die within 12 hours to just a day or two of contracting the virus.
There is no cure for the herpes virus in dogs. For adult dogs, make sure they get plenty of rest and loving care. Drugs have been used in attempt to treat the virus, but they don't work. Adult dogs can usually overcome the active stage of the herpes disease if they are otherwise healthy. Puppies are often "treated" with warmth and loving care, as adults are. Since their interest in nursing may be low, they can be tube fed. Puppies have a very difficult time overcoming the active stage of the herpes virus in dogs.
There is a vaccine available in Europe, but it isn't offered in the United States. This vaccine, Eurican Herpes 205, has been shown to be effective for boosting immunity to the disease for 60 days. It also makes it less likely for the dog to pass on the virus during pregnancy, birth or nursing.
Killing the canine herpes virus in an environment is not difficult. Bright sunlight can kill it. Temperatures over 104 degrees can kill it. You can also use the following to disinfect an area of the virus:
- A mixture containing half 70% isopropyl alcohol and half water
- A mixture containing half Listerine and half water
- A quart of water with 7 tablespoons of bleach
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