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Canine herpes on vulva.

Species: Dog
Breed: American bulldog
Age: 2-5 years
Hi there,

One of my girls was bred on April 2, natural tie observed. This is her first breeding. I am a small hobby breeder with 2 females.

Approximately one week post breeding I noticed a small sore on her vulva, right next to the skin fold. I went to wipe with a clean towel, a small amount of pus came out. I see nothing inside the vulva or anywhere else. It's now two weeks after first discovering it and it appears to be healing, looks scabbed over. No sneezing, coughing, or other symptoms. She is showing positive signs of pregnancy (though I can't rule out a pseudo for a little while still).

My question is this: am I insane to be obsessing about a possible CHV infection? It's one spot, no spreading, no growing. I know vulvar lesions are rare with CHV, but given the timing... I'm very worried. I assumed if it was she would simply not take. She appears to have taken... What's the likelihood this could be CHV? If she was exposed to it at breeding time, will she be able to pass on antibodies to pups so they will be ok since it wasn't during the "danger zone" of three weeks before and after whelp? I'm terrified that I will lose this litter!

Help! I thank you for you advice. Unfortunately it looks like we don't have access to the CHV vaccine in the USA yet, so is there anything I can do to increase chance of pup survival (other than keeping ambient temp up during the first few weeks of life)??

I am also sending a photo of the sore to the email provided by your site.

Thank you,


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thank you for sending me this photo of the lesion on your dog's vulva:

canine herpes on vulva

This is a tough question to answer with certainty. I can't recall ever seeing an active herpes lesion on a dog's vulva. My gut instinct is to say that this lesion looks more like a spot of bacterial infection rather than a herpes virus lesion.'s hard to tell by looking at a photo. And I can understand your concern as the timing is correct. Herpes generally has an incubation period of about 3-7 days in dogs.

With that being said, the most danger to the pups is if mom gets infected in the last three weeks of pregnancy. BUT...with that being said, if there are active herpes lesions on the vulva, it is possible for puppies to get infected as they pass through the birth canal.

I think it would be a great idea to have your vet take a look at mom and do some tests on her lesion. Sometimes we can diagnose herpes by sending a swab of the contents of the lesion to the lab and doing either a culture or a DNA test to determine if herpes is present. If this was the case, then I would perhaps consider having the pups born by C-Section so that they don't need to travel through the vaginal canal. There are risks that go along with this as well though so you will need to discuss your options with your veterinarian.

There is a chance though that, if mom is infected, that by the time she has her pups she will have produced antibiodies and they will be protected. The problem is that it would be difficult to tell if this is the case.

It's going to be a tough decision on what to do but I think that getting the sore tested to determine if it really is herpes is the best place to start.

Hope things work out well!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you. Made me feel a little better. If it's a bacterial infection, is amoxicillin effective for this sort of thing? She is going in for an ultrasound in 10 days... If it's positive for pups I will have them swab it if it's still there... Do herpes lesions disappear within a certain period of time or am I ok in assuming that if it clears up by next week it wasn't herpes or at least isn't active so pups will likely be safe?

If it comes back positive then a c section is what we may opt for - I'm familiar with that recovery process, so if it gives pups the best chance, that's what we will do.

I'm still hoping that if she was infected at conception that she will have antibodies by whelp time.

Thanks again!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

If it is a bacterial infection and it's just one spot, then probably nothing would be done. But, if more appear then you'll need to have your vet prescribe an appropriate antibiotic.

I'm not sure if there is a certain length of time that herpes viruses usually stick around for.

Hope things go well!

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

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