Treating Feline Herpes Virus with Antiviral Therapy

Feline herpes virus is also known as feline rhinotracheitis or FHV-1. This virus is contagious and infected cats transmit the infection to healthy pets through the saliva, nasal or eye discharge and sneezing. Although the treatment works on most pets, cat's that suffer from underlying health conditions and pets with weak immune systems are likely to succumb to the disease. In order to treat pets promptly it's important to monitor pets with severe upper respiratory symptoms and seek medical help.

Body Parts Affected with FHV-1 Include

  • Conjunctiva
  • Trachea
  • Bronchi
  • Pharynx
  • Cornea
  • Nose

Treatment of Feline Herpes Virus

After a proper diagnosis that involves blood tests and laboratory analysis, cats suffering from FHV-1 are treated with antibiotics and antiviral medicines. Antibiotics are effective to kill all bacterial infection present in the upper respiratory tract. Pet's that are unable to consume food or water are given IV fluids in order to prevent electrolyte imbalance and dehydration. Pet owners are also encouraged to provide pets with highly palatable food. Cats suffering from FHV-1 often experience nasal problems. In order to keep the cat more comfortable, nasal decongestants and vaporizers are used. Pet owners should prevent the use of over the counter eye or nasal drops as it's best to determine the severity and type of disease before administering any medication.

Antiviral Therapy

This therapy is effective to control disease progression and to prevent virus excretion or re-activation. Antiviral medications don't kill the virus but suppress the virus in the cat's body. Since pets suffering from FHV-1 are susceptible to severe ocular disorders, L-lysine is used to to treat FHV-1. L-lysine is an amino acid that has anti-viral effects and is safer for use on pets. L-lysine cannot be used exclusively to treat FHV-1 and it works best if used in combination with other antiviral medications. Antiviral medicines also work effectively to inhibit eye problems if they're administered soon after the diagnosis of FHV-1. Antiviral therapy effectively reduces virus replication and virus shedding during stress.

Commonly Used Antiviral Therapies

  • Amino Acids
  • Interferon
  • Nucleoside Analogues

Amino Acids

Amino acids are useful if used in combination with other treatments. Certain amino acids such as L-lysine are available as flavored powders or tablets which make them more palatable.


Although interferon is registered for use in humans, it's used to treat infectious nasal discharge as it has antiviral properties and affects the proteins in various cells. The drug has to be used in caution in order to prevent allergic reactions in pets that are hypersensitive to the medication.

Types of Nucleoside Analogues Used to Treat FHV-1

  • Acyclovir
  • Vidarabin
  • Trifluridin
  • Idoxuridin

Vaccine for Feline Herpes Virus

The vaccine for FHV-1 doesn't provide 100 percent protection from the virus. The vaccine is administered as early as 8 weeks of age and is administered in two doses. Pets will then have to be annually vaccinated with a booster shot.

Although FHV-1 can be controlled with medication, it's necessary to keep sick pet's in a warm and comfortable environment. The cat should be given nutritious food and plenty of water to speed recovery. Even though the prognosis for FHV-1 is good, pets may suffer from certain chronic conditions such as rhinosinusitus and ocular disease.