‘Mad Itch’ Pseudorabies Virus Infection in Dogs

Pseudorabies is an uncommon but highly fatal disease, usually occurring in dogs that have contact with swine. Pseudorabies is characterized by sudden death, often without characteristic signs, or with signs that include hypersalivation, intense pruritus, and neurologic signs. Because of the extreme itching it causes, pseudorabies is sometimes referred to as “mad itch.”

Aujesky’s disease, another name of pseudorabies, is caused by a virus known as pseudorabies virus (PRV) or herpesvirus suis. This condition mainly affects swines, the natural hosts of the virus, but the virus can get transmitted to other species including dogs. Dogs living on cattle farm are more prone to this condition. It is transmitted through contact with infected pigs, eating raw infected pork, or consuming the feces of rats that carry this condition.

The virus produces an usually fatal ENCEPHALOMYELITIS (Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord). The infection is, most often than not, fatal in the infected dogs who usually succumb to this condition within two days. Since this disease is fatal and kills dogs quickly, it is extremely important to catch it right away. 

It is possible a dog suffering from pseudorabies displays no symptoms at all. However, some signs which may be seen include:



Excessive salivation

Rapid and labored breathing

Other symptoms and signs may be neurological in nature, such as:



Ataxia (loss of balance)


Reluctance to move

Lying down excessively

Intense itching and self-mutilation from scratching


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