Can Dogs Get Cold Sores?

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Cold sores are a contagious mouth blister that can spread from kissing and sharing drinks. If you’ve ever had one, you know the frustration that comes with it. While they’re generally not painful, they are irritating and can cause unease about our appearance or cleanliness. However, most adults will experience a cold sore or fever blister at least once in their lifetime. And while cold sores cannot pass from yourself to your lovable pet, you may still wonder: Can dogs get cold sores?

Can Dogs Get Cold Sores?

YES!

Dogs get cold sores just like we do. In the veterinary field, it’s referred to as the canine herpes virus (CHV). In most cases, CHV is not fatal. However, mouth or snout snores could be a sign of an underlying a more serious condition resembling CHV, which is why it’s also pertinent to your pet’s health, as well as your peace of mind, to make an appointment with a veterinarian to gain accurate diagnosis. CHV is cause for alarm when found in puppies, as it’s one of the leading causes for newborn death (sometimes referred to as fading puppy syndrome).

Does My Dog Have a Cold Sore?

Cold sores are easy enough to spot. One day, your pup looks fine and then, overnight, a bump or blister appears on their lip or snout. Depending on furriness and color of coat, however, cold sores may be easier to find on some dogs more than others.

Symptoms

  • Persistent licking (typically of the sore)

  • Discoloration of tongue, gums, lips

  • Loss of appetite (due to irritation on/in mouth)

  • Odd chewing or smacking during eating (due to irritation on/in mouth)

  • Pawing at region of cold sore

  • Avoidance of being pet or touched around snout

Causes

Canine herpes can be passed to your pet when he or she interacts with another dog that’s infected. Cold sores are most infectious when they are open or secreting fluid, but can pass to others even if the infected dog isn’t fully showing signs of having the virus.

When intentionally breeding, set appointments for both dogs, as CHV can be shared through mating and can even be passed to the puppies while still in the womb.


Diagnosis

Canine herpes in adult dogs will typically pass on its own without causing any major disruption to their health or daily routine. If you’ve noticed sores on or around the snout of a puppy, seek a diagnosis with a veterinarian immediately. Due to the fact that bumps can be signs of many and varied conditions, veterinary attention is recommended, especially if the sore doesn’t fade on its own after a week or two. Diagnosis can typically be formed after a physical examination, however, in some cases, a veterinarian may need more to ensure proper prognosis is assigned.


If unsure about the severity or need for veterinary attention for your dog, you can inform yourself on Skin Blisters and Pustules in Dogs.

How do I Treat My Dog’s Cold Sore?

After gaining a cold sore diagnosis from a veterinarian, pet owners are often able to help ease and treat their pet themselves, with the mouth blisters subsiding in as little as a week.


Treatment

Fortunately for you, treating the common cold sore will be easy, as all it requires is rest for your pup. Particularly true for adult dogs, cold sores will often come and go causing little to no agitation or disruption of their daily routines.


One way in particular you can help them heal is to stop them from excessive scratching or licking at the sore, which could lead to worsening of the sore, potentially infection.


Recovery

Your dog’s face should be back to its normal, blister-less self in as little as 7 to 10 days after its first appearance. If the sore does not clear up or more appear, seek the attention of a veterinarian immediately.

To learn more about treatment costs of cold sores, review Canine Herpes Virus.

How Are Cold Sores Similar in Dogs and Humans?

Cold sores, medically referred to as herpes virus, are an irritating condition that affects both us and our pets. Both canine and human herpes virus are:

  • Contagious

  • Contracted through respiratory as well as sexual contact

  • Common in appearance (red sore, pustules, or bumps)

  • General recovery time (one to two weeks)

How Are Cold Sores Different in Dogs and Humans?

The key difference between canine and human herpes virus is its contagion properties. Although, many pet-owners worry about transmitting HSV (herpes simplex virus) or general cold sores to their pets, it’s not possible, just as dogs are not able to pass CHV (canine herpes virus) to their owners.

  • There are no reported cases of humans getting CHV from an infected dog.

  • There are no reported cases of dogs getting HSV from an infected human.

  • Cold sores occurring in dogs may cause more distress than what we experience, especially in smaller or younger dogs, as they can experience a fever as their bodies attempt to heal.

Case Study

You take your dog to the dog park on a busy Saturday morning. Always great at playing with others, your pet has a wonderful time chasing balls and meeting new friends. At their first acquaintance, it’s common for any dog to sniff or even lick at the other’s snout. While this is adorable to you and other dog owners in the park, it’s also the easiest way for canine herpes to spread.

Oblivious to this potential, especially since none of the other dogs your pet met at the park were exhibiting signs of illness or sores on their snouts, you eventually return home for some rest and relaxation. A day or two later, you notice your pooch sporting a new sore on his upper lip. He doesn’t seem too bothered by it, but just to be sure you decide to take him to the vet during the upcoming week.

The veterinarian performs a physical examination, asks you a few questions about the dog’s general behavior the past few days, and calmly explains that it’s canine herpes. Luckily for you, your dog is in great physical shape and in his adult stage. With proper rest and perhaps an ointment prescribed by the vet, the sore will clear within the next 4 to 5 days.