Shingles in Dogs

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Herpes, a virus distantly related to shingles in humans, is the leading cause of death among young puppies.

Dogs do not get shingles or chicken pox. You cannot give shingles to your dog. However, dogs can contract a type of herpes virus that causes a severe illness in puppies. This virus is distantly related to the shingles virus in humans. In adult dogs, this shingles-like virus results in only mild symptoms.


The canine herpes virus is generally referred to as CHV. According to Pet Education, it is the leading cause of death in puppies younger than 3 weeks.


The herpes virus in dogs can be sexually transmitted. Adult dogs can be carriers of the virus for years and show no signs of disease.

Puppy Symptoms

In puppies, the herpes virus will cause the puppies to become depressed, stop nursing and cry. Some puppies, however, will develop only mild symptoms and recover within a few days.

Adult Symptoms

Most adult dogs exhibit no symptoms of the herpes virus. However, small blisters may sometimes be felt on the vaginal wall in infected female dogs.


There is no specific treatment for the herpes virus in puppies. In older puppies, force-feeding and anti-diarrhea medication are used to control symptoms until the puppy can recover.


Keeping whelping boxes warm may help to prevent the spread of the virus among newborn and young puppies. Mother dogs that produce litters with CHV should be spayed and not allowed to reproduce. It is likely the virus will infect all of her offspring.