Canine herpesvirus is widespread in the dog population and produces a vari- ety of illnesses. It causes a fatal disease in newborn puppies. It is one of the agents implicated in the kennel cough complex. It causes vaginitis in bitches and infection of the penile sheath in males, and it can be transmitted between males and females during breeding.
Bitches with vaginitis develop hemorrhagic areas and blisterlike lesions of the vaginal mucosa. These lesions may reappear when the bitch comes into heat. Intrauterine infections that progress from the vagina are associated with early embryonic loss, abortions, and stillbirths.
Herpesvirus infection can be confirmed by isolating the virus from infected tissue.
Treatment: There is no effective treatment. A vaccine is not available in the United States at this time, but one is being used in Europe.
Prevention: Most dogs will be exposed to herpes at some time in their lives. As long as it is not during the crucial reproductive periods, it tends to be a mild respiratory infection and is not of consequence. Ideally, bitches should be isolated—not taken to shows or other canine sporting events, or exposed to large numbers of dogs—when they are being used for breeding.