How many of you are thinking, “Canine Herpes Virus,is there such a thing”? Well, unfortunately yes, and its killing beautiful, innocent puppies every day. CHV is a viral disease that causes scattered deaths of puppies and sometimes the whole litter. CHV lives in the reproductive and respiratory tracts of male and female dogs and can be sexually transmitted. Adult dogs can live years and be asymptomatic carriers, meaning they show no signs of being sick. It also means they can infect for years without ever looking sick while causing many horrifying deaths.
Recently, my mother, a reputable British Labrador breeder had a terrible experience with CHV. I’d like to use this experience to educate those of you who have no idea that this awful virus exists. Obviously, I’d like to say that if you are not a reputable and responsible breeder your pets should be spayed or neutered, but they can still carry the virus. Mom’s bitched named Beretta had a litter of 3 puppies after a very long, tiring labour. Two yellow males named Andy and Ike and one black female named Gale. Yes, they were purposefully named after tropical storms. On day five-ish my mom noticed two of her older, retired dogs had bloody noses with funny discharge. She attempted to segregate them from the puppies and disinfect everything, but of course there’s an incubation period with CHV and many other virus’ so it may have been too late already. Both she and her Vet suspected Kennel Cough, the Vet prescribed antibiotics for the older dogs and gave a prescription in case the puppies ended up getting sick (saving a 2 hour trip).
The older dogs felt fine practically the next day. The first nine days of the puppies’ lives went by perfectly, they were doubling their birth weights, eating normally, having normal poops, etc. Day 10 baby Gale started showing signs of this Kennel Cough and she had stopped eating. Mom started feeding the puppy baby formula with a syringe and we discussed making sure the puppy got in some electrolytes. Very rapidly the puppy’s health started to decline (within 12 hours). The puppy would scream and scream, so first thing in the morning my mother took her to the vet. Immediately the vet gave the puppy oxygen and started tube feeding her. After a few hours the puppy’s life couldn’t be saved and she had to be put down. Back at home, someone was watching over Beretta and her remaining two puppies when one of them, Andy, started screaming too. When my mother got home she knew it was only a matter of time before he died to. She administered him some new medicine that the vet prescribed hoping it would take effect and save little Andy. My mom slept in the whelping box with Beretta and her two puppies and held Andy until he took his last breath.
According to some internet websites 95% of puppies that contract CHV before 3 weeks of age will die from it. After 3 weeks their body temperatures can be self-controlled to fight off foreign bodies and a higher temperature (between 100 and 104) will kill CHV. Puppies 1-3 weeks of age have a much lower body temperature (around 94 degrees).
I guess the moral of the story is if one puppy gets sick, bring them all into the vet. Pregnant females should be tested for CHV as it can easily wipe out whole litters. Puppies diagnosed should be kept very warm to try and raise their body temperatures to kill the virus.
Unfortunately, things out of our reach can happen to our dogs very unpredictably, and very suddenly. All we can do is try our best for them and be there for them. When there times comes to go to the bridge (even if too early) we can respect them enough to make the transition more comfortable whether it be through euthanasia or physical comfort. Rest in peace little Gale and Andy (Andy seen in picture below).