There are two types of herpes viruses in humans: HSV 1 and 2. Herpes simplex virus 1 is responsible for 80 percent of herpes outbreaks, and people get lesions on their mouth or face. Herpes simplex virus 2 (genital herpes) is responsible for the other 20 percent of herpes outbreaks. It’s estimated that 80 to 90 percent of people in the United States have been exposed to HSV 1. With such high rates of transmission, is there any cause for concern in transmitting HSV 1 to your dogs?
Can Dogs Get Cold Sores from Humans?
No, humans cannot transmit the herpes simplex virus 1 (the cold sore virus) to dogs. It’s specific to humans, and it can only be passed from human to human. However, there are multiple strains of the herpes virus, and there are strains that are specific to dogs.
The Canine Herpes Virus
Canine herpes virus (CHV) is also known as “fading puppy syndrome” because its mortality rate is the highest in puppies. CHV resides in the reproductive organs and respiratory tracts in adult dogs, and fully grown dogs can carry the virus without showing any symptoms of it. It’s spread among adults dogs through coughing/sneezing and sexual contact.
Puppies contract it via the birth canal when they’re born (if their mother has the virus in their reproductive organs) or through nasal secretions. The puppies can then transmit the virus to each other.
Symptoms of CHV in Puppies
CHV is the leading cause of sudden death in newborn puppies. Symptoms include weakness, persistent crying, yellow/green feces, low body temperature, difficulty breathing, nasal discharge, and bloody noses. They may also present with a painful abdomen (bruising or bloating), lack of a suckle reflex, no appetite, and sudden death.
Treating CHV in Puppies
If your newborn puppy is unwell, your doctor will want to test for CHV. Treatment is mostly supportive: keeping them nourished, hydrated, and warm. They’ll also get an anti-viral medication to battle the virus. However, the mortality rate is high, so many puppies pass away despite being well cared for.
Humans can’t get CHV, and dogs can’t get HSV, so if you get cold sore outbreaks, there isn’t any way your dog could contract them. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to CHV, contact your vet immediately, especially if it was while your dog was being bred.