Herpes in dogs: vaccination against puppy death

Herpes in dogs is especially dangerous for puppies - it is not for nothing that an infection with the Canine Herpes Virus is also called "puppy death".

Canine herpes is harmless to humans and adult cold snouts usually get along well with the infection. For newborn puppies, however, infection with the virus is almost always fatal.

Cause of herpes in dogs: the canine herpes virus

The CHV-1 pathogen is the most common trigger for so-called kennel cough and for fertility disorders in dogs. But the most dramatic are the effects of the herpes virus on puppies - they usually do not survive infection.

About ten percent of all dogs kept alone are infected with the virus - often without showing symptoms. However, if many animals live together in a confined space, 50 to 100 percent of them have a previous infection.

This special herpes virus only affects dogs, so there is no danger to humans and other animals.

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Contagion routes and prevention

In dogs, herpes is released through all body fluids. When sniffing or licking, the pathogen then reaches the immune system via the respiratory tract. Contagion can also occur during the mating act, albeit less often than via the respiratory mucosa. Puppies should be kept away from other dogs in the first few weeks to minimize the risk of infection.

The virus feels most comfortable at 35 to 36 degrees Celsius. Even at 38 to 39 degrees Celsius, the rate of multiplication is so greatly reduced that there is little danger from the herpes pathogen. Since fresh puppies tend to hypothermia, they offer the viruses perfect breeding conditions. Make sure there is sufficient warmth in the litter box - 38 degrees Celsius keep the virus at bay and the small fur noses are cozy and warm.

The canine herpes virus is also not particularly resistant in other ways: even normal cleaning agents kill it. General cleanliness can therefore contribute a lot to protection against CHV-1 and is very important especially in dog groups.

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Symptoms of herpes in adult dogs

Adult dogs often show no symptoms at all. The tricky thing about herpes is that it is a latent infection, which means that the virus is always there after infection and is also not curable - it "sleeps" in the body most of the time and is only activated when the immune system weakens , This happens, for example, when the animals are stressed, pregnant or sick. As soon as the virus is active, the affected animals can infect their peers.

If the herpes virus becomes active, more diffuse symptoms can be observed:

● mild respiratory problems
● cough
● runny nose
● Eye discharge
● vaginal or foreskin discharge

When bitches come into contact with CHV-1 for the first time during pregnancy, they usually lose the puppies or the little ones are stillborn.

Symptoms of herpes in puppies

Puppies can either become infected in the womb, at birth or via the mother's vaginal secretions or are later infected with herpes by other dogs. Depending on how old the puppies are, the consequences differ.

Puppies younger than three weeks almost always die after a day or two. Sometimes completely without symptoms, sometimes with the following warning signals:

● Reluctance to suck
● diarrhea
● whining
Gagging and vomiting

Puppies between three and five weeks of age have slightly better chances of survival, but often suffer nerve damage. The herpes infection shows up in them by:

● runny nose
● cough
● Eye discharge
● tremor
● numbness
● blindness

From the fifth week of life, puppies cope with herpes as well as adult animals - treatment is not possible and is not necessary in adulthood.

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Vaccination for pregnant bitches

To prevent puppy death, bitches can be vaccinated if they do not have their own antibodies due to a previous infection. The vaccination ensures that you pass on immune protection via the blood and breast milk to your babies, who are well protected for the first few weeks of life.

The vaccination takes place during heat or seven to ten days after the mating. There is a booster shot two weeks before the birth date. This immunization is also necessary for the next litter.