Definition of Herpesvirus Infection in Dogs
Herpesvirus infection is a fairly common, potentially life-threatening disease in domestic dogs. It is caused by the highly contagious canine herpesvirus (CHV). Newborns are especially susceptible to infection when their mother carries the virus. Puppies can get infected in utero or during whelping and develop severe, often fatal respiratory disease. In older dogs, CHV is transmitted by physical contact during breeding and in airborne respiratory secretions. Infected adults may develop ulcers and blisters on their genitalia and along the sensitive lining of their respiratory tract. Pregnant bitches with CHV are prone to abortions, stillbirths and early embryonic loss. The good news is that CHV infection can usually be prevented through good sense and good hygiene. The virus is readily inactivated by heat, drying and bleach. Also, dogs that are infected after about one month of age, and not during the reproductive process, typically develop only mild symptoms of respiratory disease.