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Canine Herpes Virus

Canine herpes virus (CHV), also known as “fading puppy syndrome,” is a viral infection that affects the reproductive organs of adult dogs. While adult dogs infected with CHV usually do not show any symptoms, the infection is the leading cause of death in newborn puppies. One puppy in a litter may be affected, and death may occur abruptly, with little or no warning, or an entire litter may perish within a 24-hour period. If the disease is contracted when the puppies are older than three weeks, it is often less severe. Older puppies have a much better chance of survival, but may have long-term effects of a persistent CHV infection.

How Is Canine Herpes Transmitted?

Canine herpes virus lives in the reproductive and respiratory tracts of male and female dogs. In adults, the disease is transmitted via aerosol and direct contact, including sneezing, coughing, nosing, sniffing, licking and sexual activities between an infected and an uninfected dog. Puppies usually contract the disease in the birth canal or from nasal and oral secretions of the mother shortly after birth. Puppies can also spread the virus to one another. Just because one puppy in a litter is infected with CHV does not mean they all are.

What Are the Symptoms of Canine Herpes in Adult Dogs?

  • Often there aren't any symptoms
  • Occasionally raised genital sores may be seen
  • Abortion
  • Stillbirth
  • Kennel cough

What Are the Symptoms of Canine Herpes in Puppies?

  • Sudden death of newborn puppy
  • Weakness, lethargy, crying
  • Lack of suckle reflex/appetite
  • Painful abdomen, bruising of the abdomen
  • Soft, yellow/green feces
  • Respiratory difficulty, nasal discharge
  • Hemorrhages, such as nose bleeds and small bruises
  • Older puppies may develop nervous system abnormalities, including blindness and seizures

Can I Catch Herpes from My Dog?

No. Humans are not at risk for catching canine herpes.