Today you're going to learn about shingles - and we aren't talking about roofs. Shingles is one of the manifestations of the varicella-zoster virus. You likely know its little brother, chicken pox. After a person gets chicken pox, the virus lays dormant for decades. It resurges as a mature, more complex virus, becoming a real problem for the affected human. This older, bolder version of varicella-zoster brings with it a lot of pain, and often a visible rash of blisters. The virus is contagious in people, but can it spread to pets? Do dogs get shingles?
Can Dogs Get Shingles from Humans?
Varicella-zoster is a human virus. It is not zoonotic, which means that it can't bounce back and forth between pooches and their owners. However, shingles does have a distant cousin, known as canine herpes virus (CHV), that causes a lot of the same symptoms. This virus is highly contagious among puppies and can be totally devastating. Learning about it can help you protect your furry friends before an outbreak occurs.
Does My Dog Have CHV?
While the virus isn't such a big deal to mature, healthy dogs, it's a real threat to young puppers. The onset of canine herpes virus is fast, and if you don't act quickly you could lose your fur-babies. Spotting the early signs of sickness can help stop the virus from spreading.
In grown-up dogs, the only sign of CHV is often mild respiratory problems that go away by themselves. But if your dog has recently had a litter, a whole slew of nasty issues like bloating, diarrhea and even hemorrhaging can develop in the puppies.
Any dog with a weak immune system can catch CHV. The virus spreads from contact with an infected pooch's bodily fluids.
Your vet will probably be able to diagnose CHV after a physical exam, but can also perform a PCR test to confirm the presence of the virus. Unfortunately, CHV is often only identified during autopsies of puppies that did not survive the infection.
Looking for more info? Head over to our guide to Canine Herpes Virus Infection in Dogs to read more!
How Do I Treat My Dog's CHV?
Mature dogs usually get over the canine herpes virus without much fuss. On the other hand, if one of the pups in a litter has the virus, action can be the difference between life and death.
Because CHV is a virus, there is no cure for it. Most puppies that get it do not survive. Keeping the little guys warm can sometimes help, however, because the virus only survives at cold temperatures. Older pups may respond to anti-vomiting medication.
If a puppy with CHV does make it, it will probably have serious health problems for the rest of its life. Older dogs that get CHV can go on to infect other pooches indefinitely.
If you'd like to read real stories about owners dealing with the canine herpes virus, or if you have some questions of your own that you'd like to ask a vet, check out Canine Herpes Virus Infection in Dogs.
How Is CHV in Dogs Similar to Shingles in Humans?
While the viruses are different, the illnesses from shingles and CHV can mimic each other. Common issues include:
Skin lesions and redness
Pain in the abdomen
How is CHV in Dogs Different from Shingles in Humans?
While shingles are definitely more than an inconvenience, young dogs have the worse end of the stick by far. Main difference between the two viruses are:
CHV does not cause a fever, while shingles does
CHV can cause neurological problems like seizures or coma
CHV leads to severe diarrhea and vomiting
In most dogs that get it, CHV leads to an upper respiratory infection
CHV can cause brain inflammation
It's important to keep canine herpes virus in mind when adopting a new dog. One couple noticed shortly after rescuing a mixed breed pup that he was not feeling so well. They acted fast to get him tested at their vet's, so that they would know for sure. It was very important for them to do so, as they had two other dogs at home. The virus could have easily jumped from the new dog to the two oldies.