Cold sores are high among humans, and the possibility of infecting our pets is understandably concerning. Can dogs get cold sores from humans? The answer is no, but the reasons are complex.

What Are Cold Sores?

So, what are cold sores? Small fluid-filled blisters in and around the mouth are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). They are highly contagious and can spread by direct contact with a person with an active outbreak or any surface contaminated with the virus. Cold sores can be excruciatingly painful and can last up to 10 days.

Can Dogs Get Cold Sores from Humans?

Can our furry companions contract cold sores from us? Although the herpes virus causes cold sores and is in the same family of viruses that causes canine herpes, the two are different. Humans are affected by the herpes simplex virus, while dogs are affected by the canine herpes virus (CHV). Thus, dogs cannot get cold sores from humans.
However, if you have a cold sore, observing appropriate hygiene protocols around your dog is critical. The virus can survive on surfaces for a few hours, so if your dog touches a contaminated surface, it might pick up the virus. Practising frequent hand washing and avoiding close contact with your dog during an active outbreak is wise.

What Happens If a Dog Gets Herpes?

Although they cannot contract cold sores from humans, they can get canine herpes, which is highly contagious and is transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva, urine, and feces. Dogs can contract it directly with infected dogs or indirectly through contaminated toys or food bowls. The symptoms range from mild to severe, with high fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Pregnant dogs are at risk of miscarriage and stillbirth due to CHV.

How Is Herpes in Dogs Treated?

There is no cure for CHV, but most dogs will recover independently. Treatment involves managing symptoms and preventing secondary infections. Hospitalization may be required for dogs with severe symptoms.

Preventing the Spread of Herpes in Dogs

Preventing the spread of CHV is critical, particularly in breeding kennels or homes with multiple dogs. Once present, the virus can be difficult to eradicate, so prevention is crucial. To minimize the risk of transmission, observe these tips:

  • Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently and clean surfaces contaminated with bodily fluids.
  • Quarantine-infected dogs: Keep any dogs with active infections separate from other dogs to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Avoid sharing toys and food bowls: If you have multiple dogs, make sure they each have their toys and food bowls to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Vaccinate breeding dogs: If you breed dogs, make sure to vaccinate them against CHV to prevent the spread of the virus to their offspring


In summary, the chances of dogs contracting cold sores from humans are slim. However, it is crucial to take precautions to prevent the transmission of canine herpes. More useful information about veterinary medicine in our Dubai Vet Clinic ModernVet