You've just spotted something on your dog's lip and are wondering, can dogs get cold sores? Yes, dogs are capable of getting cold sores. Blisters or sores existing on or around the dog's mouth are generally considered cold sores, but they're different from the herpes simplex virus infection.
Dogs do not get cold sores in the same way that humans do, however. Dogs will also not contract cold sores from humans, and humans will not contract cold sores from dogs. In humans, cold sores are caused by the herpes virus. In dogs, cold sores can actually appear anywhere on dog's body, and may be caused by the canine herpes virus, dog lick granuloma as well as other related health conditions.
So to answer the question, can dogs get cold sores – they can, but they're different from what you think a dog cold sore really is and are associated with their own canine herpesvirus. Here's what you should know about them.
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Can Dogs Get Cold Sores?
Everything to Know About Dog Cold Sore
First, it is important to understand what the canine herpesvirus is. Herpes is usually associated with cold sores. By estimation, 1 in 3 dogs has been exposed to canine herpes and is a carrier of the canine herpesvirus.
When a dog becomes infected, they will typically experience a mild illness and then recover without any additional symptoms. Recovered dogs will still periodically suffer from symptoms of canine herpes, and can pass it onto other dogs. Let's get these two most important questions out of the way:
1. Can dogs get cold sores?
Yes, they can, but they're different from the herpes virus humans get.
2. Can dogs catch cold sores from humans?
No, dogs cannot be infected by the human herpes simplex virus infection.
3. Can you get a cold sore from a dog?
No, humans cannot contract canine herpesvirus infection from their dogs.
While technically different, canine herpes and human herpes are actually pretty similar. They are both contagious (between their own species, as we mentioned earlier, herpes can’t be spread from dog to human). It can be contracted through both respiratory and sexual contact.
Both human and dog cold sores are usually red sores or bumps. For both species, recovery time is normal around one to two weeks. Dogs may experience more distress from a cold sore than we would. Smaller dogs and younger dogs can experience a fever from a cold sore outbreak as they wait for their body to heal.
Symptoms of Dog Cold Sore
Most common symptoms of a dog cold sore include:
- Tongue, gums, and lip discoloration
- Persistent licking on or around the sore
- Odd chewing due to discomfort around the sore
- Pawing near the cold sore
- Avoiding being touched around the snout
- Appetite loss due to irritation
Canine herpes can be spread by sexual contact. It can also be spread by contact with oral and nasal secretions. Canine herpes virus can be spread between two dogs, even if neither one has an active infection. If you are asking a question can dogs get cold sores and are worried your dog may have canine herpes, you can have them checked with a blood test. However, the tests are unreliable unless your dog has an active infection.
Once your dog experiences the mild illness associated with herpes when they first contract the infection, they will likely show no more symptoms. If a dog has a cold sore due to canine herpes, it is likely to show up on the dog’s genitals. Ulcers that look like cold sores could also appear on a dog’s genitalia area.
How to Treat Dog Cold Sore
There are a few ways to treat a dog cold sore. Rest will typically heal it so time will be the best cure for it. For the most part, cold sores will come and go in adult dogs without too much agitation or discomfort.
The best way you can help your dog deal with the pain of a cold sore is to keep him from excessively licking or scratching the sore. Constant licking and scratching will agitate the sore and can slow down healing, cause the sore to worsen, or cause an infection of the sore. The sore should go away after 7-10 days. If it is still there, you should take your dog to the vet.
If your dog is showing signs of canine herpes, avoid breeding them during the outbreak. Canine herpes can cause serious health problems that could result in the puppies death. As a general rule, it is recommended that pregnant female dogs are separated from other dogs during the last three weeks of pregnancy and during the first three weeks after giving birth to avoid contracting canine herpes. This reduces the likelihood of fatalities due to canine herpes.
Causes of Dog Cold Sore
Cold sores in dogs could also be the result of eosinophilic granuloma. This occurs most more commonly in cats than dogs, but it can still occur in dogs. They are lesions on the skin containing eosinophils. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell, which is commonly seen as the body’s response to an allergy.
When occurring in dogs, eosinophilic granulomas appear as ulcerated or vegetative masses around the mouth area. Another way they could appear would be as papules or plaques around your dog’s body. The color of these can vary, but they are white or yellow for the most part. These can be treated with corticosteroids. If a dog suffers from repeat granulomas, they can be put on a low dose long-term corticosteroid program.
There are a wide assortment of health problems that could cause cold sores in dogs, usually appearing on or around your dog’s mouth. Some common causes include periapical disease, endodontic disease, and periodontal disease. These diseases can lead to inflammations and infections, which is what cause the sores or ulcers.
Canine stomatitis can also cause sores to appear in the mouth. If your dog has developed sores on or around his mouth, it could be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. You should take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice these often to ensure prompt treatment and diagnosis.
For the most part, a dog cold sore will not harm your pooch. It is usually due to canine herpes. The only time canine herpes is really dangerous for dogs is when the infected dog is either a pregnant female or a puppy.
If your dog has never shown signs of herpes before and experiences a cold sore, you should contact your vet. The sore could actually be a different health problem, and some health problems can be serious. Seeing a vet will rule out all other possibilities, and will lead to early treatment if there is an underlying health problem.
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