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Can Dogs Get Chickenpox? Possible Causes of Your Dog's Rashes

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

Rashes can be painful and irritating for puppies.

Rashes can be painful and irritating for puppies.

Can Dogs Get Chickenpox?

Once you contract chickenpox, you should isolate yourself from people who haven't had chickenpox before until your sores go away. Since chickenpox is highly contagious, does this mean that you have to stay away from your pet dogs, too? Can dogs get chickenpox?

Chickenpox Facts . . . for Humans

  • Red dots on humans that look like rashes that develop into blisters are signs of chickenpox.
  • Chickenpox is caused by the airborne virus Varicella-zoster. Chickenpox can be transferred easily from one person to another through sneezing and coughing, or by contacting the fluid once the blisters pop.
  • It can be nasty since most often you can have chickenpox appear all over your body. Symptoms last for about 2 weeks.
  • Pregnant women, in particular, are advised to avoid contact with a person infected with chickenpox because of potential health risks.

What About Our Furry Family Friends?

If your dog is exhibiting chicken pox-like symptoms, it's highly likely they've contracted one of the following disorders, but not chickenpox. Read on to learn about what may be the possible cause of your dog's rashes, spots, and pustules.

Can dogs get chicken pox?

Can dogs get chicken pox?

Chickenpox Is Not an Anthroponotic Disease

An anthroponotic disease is a contagious disease where a pathogen found in humans is transmitted to an animal species.

Once a pathogen is transferred to an animal species, it can result in the same disease found in humans with a few significant differences in physical expression. Once a disease is present in both humans and an animal, it can be transferred to animals by humans and vice versa.

So, can dogs get chicken pox? No.

Possible Causes of Rashes and Red Spots

While dogs cannot acquire chickenpox, 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.


Some of the most common causes of red spots in your dog's skin are ticks and fleas. Once these parasites suck blood, their bites can cause flare-ups on your dog's skin.

An example of a parasite-caused condition is Mange. Mange is a group of skin diseases from parasites which can cause rashes characterized by hair loss on the infected skin patches. They start off in small patches which quickly spread throughout a dog's body.

What are the causes of your dogs rashes if the rashes aren't caused by chicken pox?

What are the causes of your dogs rashes if the rashes aren't caused by chicken pox?


Rashes on your dog's body may be due to a food allergy. Dogs can develop certain food allergies just like humans. Dogs may also develop allergies from outdoor allergens via contact allergens.

Once dogs come into contact with toxic plants, pollen grains, or certain weeds, rashes, and even pustules can form on the contacted skin. Other allergens include dust and mold which may also affect your dog, though will most likely not create physical symptoms. These allergic reactions may look like chicken pox.

Bacterial Infections

One type of bacterial skin infection that exhibits symptoms similar to chicken pox is the staphylococcus infection, also known as a "staph infection".

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  • A staph infection usually enters a wound or cut on a dog's skin. Once the skin is infected, the infection itchiness, crusting, and pustules may form. In severe cases, a dog may lose hair in the infected area.
  • Same is true for impetigo which usually affects puppies. Pyoderma is a symptom of impetigo and/or other bacterial infections and is characterized by skin lesions and pustules.

A dog has a higher risk of developing a bacterial infection when it has skin abrasions or cuts, endocrine diseases, and allergies.

Canine Herpes Virus

The most similar ailment a dog can contract to human chicken pox is called canine herpesvirus (CHV), or dog pox in layman's terms.

  • CHV is one of the major causes of fatality among puppies younger than 3 weeks old.
  • It is a sexually transmittable disease between 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.
Show your animal love by taking them to the vet as soon as they seem uncomfortable.

Show your animal love by taking them to the vet as soon as they seem uncomfortable.

Potential Solutions

Once you see red rashes and blisters on your dog's skin, immediately look into what may be the cause by recording symptoms and calling your local veterinarian. Here are some possible solutions for your dog's skin ailments:

  • Parasites: Does your pup have ticks and fleas? Does he have a wound which might be the cause of a bacterial infection? Maybe he was bitten by mosquitoes or insects if he played in the yard.
  • Allergies: When you know your dog's allergy history, it's even easier to narrow down possible causes of infection. 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 alleviated using an antihistamine.
  • Virus: Prednisone is often administered to dogs by a veterinarian for autoimmune diseases.
  • Bacterial Infection: Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotic ointment.

Consult a Veterinarian

If you are unsure about the cause of your dog's rashes, it is always best to consult a veterinarian. A vet will perform medical procedures to get to the bottom of your dog's illness. If during physical check-up the vet cannot detect the cause of the rashes and pustules, the vet will perform several medical tests.

An example of a test is scraping 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.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Rash-Free

Proper care for your dog's health and hygiene are important to prevent them from having skin disease.

Rash Prevention

  • A pet's environment should also be kept clean and disinfected, just like a human's.
  • Periodical vaccinations and parasite control are important as well.

Good hygiene might not always prevent ticks and fleas. 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 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.

What to Do If Your Dog Has a Rash

  • If your dog gets rashes and blisters, try bathing your dog with anti-bacterial and hypoallergenic soap.
  • Use a washcloth soaked in soap and water to disinfect vulnerable 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.
  • Avoid harmful and toxic detergents when cleaning your home which might irritate your dog's skin. Use organic cleaners instead.
  • It is 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 the skin-healing process.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2014 Sree Lakshmi


mary on May 27, 2017:

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

Lyra on May 19, 2017:

this helps me. thanks

Sunaabh Sarkar on June 17, 2016:

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...?

imagin tom on November 10, 2015:

i love to have pet dogs

Jack on June 21, 2015:

A simple no would have been off :)

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