Veterinarians urge pet owners to vaccinate against parvovirus after spike

Pet owners are being urged to vaccinate their pups against parvovirus, after recent spikes in the region.

Veterinarian Dr Erica Kennedy from Western Rivers Veterinary Group said they had seen eight positive cases of parvovirus within the last six weeks.

The highly contagious infection affects a dog's gastrointestinal tract and is often fatal, especially to young dogs, but Dr Kennedy said it was easily preventable.

"It's so tiny, you only need a small amount of this virus to become infected. You know how infectious coronavirus is for people, it's like that, probably worse for dogs," she said.

Dr Kennedy said symptoms would include a lack of appetite, vomiting, dehydration and bloody diarrhoea.

According to Dr Kennedy pups were more susceptible to the infection because of their low immunity, however older dogs were also at risk.

She advised the best protection against the virus was through vaccination.

"Pups need three to four vaccines, two weeks apart starting from six weeks of age," Dr Kennedy said.

"Our last vaccine is usually around 12 weeks. Some vets will recommend a 14 and 16 week vaccination as well, and we're certainly not against that. Adult dogs need one vaccine every year.

"We see quite a few dogs that are in that 18-month to three-year-old mark, that get parvovirus, because they haven't had their annual boosters."

Parvovirus is spread from one dog to another via direct or indirect contact with an infected dog's faeces.

The virus can survive in the environment of an infected dog, and can even be transmitted through flies or an owner's clothing and shoes.

Dr Kennedy said spring time was the perfect breeding ground for the infection to spread, due to the rain and warmth, which brings it out of the soil, where it can live for years.

"Especially after the years of drought where we haven't had a lot of rain, this year with our wet spring it could bring a lot more parvo out of the soil," she said.

Pet owners are also being warned to be careful when buying puppies that they have been given a vaccine by a veterinarian.

Dr Kennedy said they had an owner bring in their five-month-old puppy who was displaying classic parvovirus symptoms.

The puppy tested positive to the virus, however the owner said it had been vaccinated when they bought it.

"There's a vaccine that people can buy online called Parvac, but we've found that it is really ineffective," Dr Kennedy said.

"The difference between them is that Parvac is called a killed vaccine, and essentially the way it works is it doesn't stimulate the immune system very well."

This story Parvovirus rise in puppies first appeared on Daily Liberal.