Can Dogs get Chicken Pox? - The Possible Causes of your Dogs Rashes

Updated on February 11, 2016
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Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently studying lab sciences. She enjoys researching various health topics and writing about her findings.

Red dots that look like rashes which then develop into blisters are the signs of chicken pox. It is caused by Varicella-zoster which is an airborne virus. As such, it can transfer easily from one person to another through sneezing and coughing or getting in contact with the fluid once the blisters pop out. It can be nasty since most often you can have chicken pox appear all over your body which lasts for about 2 weeks long. Adults and pregnant women are advised to avoid contact with a person infected with chicken pox because of health risks. Once you get chicken pox you should isolate yourself from people who have not yet contracted it. Being highly contagious, does this mean that you have to stay away from your pet dogs? Can dogs get chicken pox too? Read on to know the answer and what may be the possible causes of your dog's rashes, spots and pustules.

Can Dogs get Chicken Pox - Possible Causes
Can Dogs get Chicken Pox - Possible Causes | Source

Chicken Pox is not an Anthroponotic Disease

In answering the question, can dogs get chicken pox; you must first know what an anthroponotic disease is. It means that it is a contagious disease wherein a pathogen found in humans is transmitted to animal species. Once a pathogen transfers to animals, at times it may result to the same disease found in humans with a few significant differences in presentation. They can be transferred to animals by humans, by mere skin to skin contact with animals. Chicken pox not being an anthroponotic disease means that it is not transmissible to your pets. Hence, the answer to this – can dogs get chicken pox? – is no.

Can Dogs get Chicken Pox - Possible Causes of your Dogs Rashes
Can Dogs get Chicken Pox - Possible Causes of your Dogs Rashes | Source

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Rashes and Red Spots may be Caused by Parasites

While dogs cannot acquire chicken pox, you might see red rashes or fluid filled blisters spreading on your dog's skin which are quite similar to chicken pox symptoms. This can mean a lot of things to an untrained person, so you might want to bring your dog to a veterinarian if you are unsure of its cause and what it is exactly. One of the most common causes of red spots in your dog's skin is ticks and fleas. Once these parasites suck blood, their bites can cause flare ups on your dog's skin. An example is Mange. It is a group of skin diseases from parasites which can affect your dog leaving rashes and characterized by hair loss on infected parts. They start off in small patches which quickly spread throughout your dog's body.

It may be caused by allergies : Sometimes the rashes found on your dog may be due to food allergy. Just like humans, dogs can develop certain food allergies. It may also be from outdoor allergens or what is called contact allergy. Once your dogs go out and get in contact with toxic plants, pollen grains or certain weeds, rashes and even pustules can grow on your dog's skin. Other allergens include dust and mold which may also affect your dog. So, can dogs get chicken pox? Certainly not, but they may develop rashes similar to chicken pox although it is actually caused by allergies.
It can possibly be a bacterial infection : One type of bacterial skin infection that exhibits symptoms similar to chicken pox is the staphylococcus infection. A wounded or cut part of your dog's skin is where the staphylococcus bacterium enters. Once the skin is infected, it can cause itchiness, crusting, and formation of pustules. In severe cases, your dog can suffer from hair loss. Another example of bacterial infection similar to this is the pyoderma, which is also characterized by skin lesions and pustules. Same is true with impetigo which usually affects puppies. Your dog has a higher risk of developing bacterial infection when it has skin abrasions or cuts, endocrine diseases and allergies.

Canine Herpes Virus

Can dogs get chicken pox? No, they cannot get chicken pox but there is a similar virus of chicken pox to that of dogs, called the canine herpes virus (CHV) which is dog pox in lay man's term. It is one of the major causes of fatality among puppies younger than 3 weeks old. It is a sexually transmissible disease among dogs. A carrier dog barely shows signs and symptoms of the virus. At times, a female adult carrier dog can show signs of CHV through the appearance of inflamed skin and blisters on its vaginal wall. As for puppies, the usual signs of CHV include prolonged crying and refusal to nurse.

Possible Treatments

Once you see red rashes and blisters on your dog's skin, immediately check what may have caused it. Does he have ticks and fleas? Does he have a wound which might be the cause of a bacterial infection? Maybe he got bitten by mosquitoes or insects if he played in the yard. Know his history of allergies. If you can identify what has caused the problem, then treat your dog's skin with over the counter medication. Food and contact allergies for instance can be cured by antihistamine. Prednisone is also administered to dogs for autoimmune diseases. Bacterial infections on the other hand can be treated with antibiotic ointment.

Consult a Veterinarian

If you are unsure about the cause of your dog's rashes, it is best to consult a veterinarian and bring your dog to have him checked. If you ask your vet, can dogs get chicken pox, the answer will certainly be no, but he will perform medical procedures to get to the bottom of what your dog's illness is. If upon physical check up the vet cannot detect the cause of the rashes and pustules, several medical tests will have to be done. An example is the scraping of your dog's skin for analysis. Going to the vet clinic will also help you know what medications your dog needs as well as the precise dosage and administration. Professional help will put your mind at ease and it will help prevent your dog's condition from getting worse.

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What You Can Do

Proper caring of your dog's health and hygiene are important to prevent them from having skin disease. Their environment should also be kept clean and disinfected. Periodical vaccinations and parasite control are important as well. Once your dog gets rashes and blisters, try bathing your dog with anti-bacterial and hypo-allergenic soap. As an alternative, use a washcloth soaked in soap and water to wipe the affected areas. When bathing or cleaning your dog, remember to wash the folds of their skin and the skin in between their toes. This way, your dog can be relieved of itchiness and at the same time clean the infected surface. Also avoid harmful and toxic detergents in cleaning your home which might irritate your dog's skin. Use organic cleaners instead.

Good hygiene might not always prevent ticks and fleas so using a commercial product might be necessary. There are currently anti-flea collars, drops, sprays and others that can help you with this. Regularly checking your pooch for signs of fleas and ticks is important to avoid future possible skin problems.

Proper nutrition is likewise essential to give your dog a healthy skin. For dogs with food allergies, you can feed them venison, duck or pork. Avoid chicken or beef flavored dog food. Fish oil and other dietary supplement are also advisable for healthy skin, hair and overall wellness. It is also best to feed your dog wet food when he is suffering from skin problems because moisture in the food is needed to keep your dog's skin healthy. Raw food for dogs is also good to help their skin's healing process.


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      mary 9 months ago

      How do you know the chicken pox virus is a virus that has not changed/evolved and cannot infect dogs?

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      Lyra 10 months ago

      this helps me. thanks

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      Sunaabh Sarkar 21 months ago

      I have a 4 year old Spitz living with us since she was just 2 months old. Strange as it may sound, she pukes once every time she has milk, only to lick it clean from the floor. Not that she leaves behind a mess, just that for us humans, it feels disgusting every time she does it... is this some kind of problem I should get unduly concerned or is this normal the way our Vet suggests...?

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      imagin tom 2 years ago

      i love to have pet dogs

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      Jack 2 years ago

      A simple no would have been off :)