K9 Magazine

Canine Parvovirus Warning to Dog Owners

Preventable dog disease claiming too many lives, and it's something more dog owners should be concerned about than ever before, according to experts.

Vets from the UK’s leading veterinary charity, PDSA, are warning that the deadly dog infection parvovirus is present and dangerous in Britain.

What is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly infectious disease that can lead to death. It mainly affects younger dogs and in advanced stages, can kill nine out of ten animals.

Some dogs can survive the infection with intensive veterinary and nursing care. But with over 25 per cent of cases proving fatal, animal welfare organisations are urging all dog owners to vaccinate their pets to prevent them from contracting the disease and risking death.

PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon Sean Wensley said: “Parvovirus makes dogs extremely ill which is distressing for both them and their owners. PDSA staff at some PetAid hospitals have seen a large influx of very sick pets over the past few weeks.

Treatment: Parvovirus in Dogs

The virus normally affects a dog’s intestines, causing signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea. The faeces will also often contain mucus or blood. Dogs with parvovirus can also become subdued and lethargic very quickly, and go off their food. If a dog develops any of these signs, they should receive immediate veterinary attention.

Prognosis: Canine Parvovirus

Some dogs will recover but others can die within hours of showing signs.

In the first six months of 2013, PDSA’s 51 hospitals treated nearly 1,800 cases of suspected parvovirus, but vets fear this may just be the tip of the iceberg so have issued advice for owners, and as more local stories seem to be released by local veterinary practices almost weekly, the situation shows no signs of slowing down.

Parvovirus Info

Clare Hinchliffe, a Vet Nurse at Newcastle PDSA, which has also seen a rise in cases, said: “Most of the cases we see are dogs that aren’t vaccinated, or aren’t up to date with their boosters. This disease causes terrible suffering for the dogs and requires very intensive nursing. Sometimes they have to stay in the hospital for up to a week in our isolation ward. Sadly, despite our best efforts, some affected dogs do die.”

Parvovirus Symptoms

Parvovirus attacks the heart muscle and intestinal tract. Symptoms include vomiting, a foul-smelling diarrhoea that may contain blood, lethargy and loss of appetite, but may not be apparent in older animals.

Parvovirus Outbreaks

The effects of canine parvovirus are very distressing to witness and it is often fatal. It is particularly serious in puppies as they also risk heart disease from this virus. If your dog starts to vomit or develops diarrhoea then it is crucial to contact your local veterinary practice as soon as possible.

Parvovirus is preventable through vaccination, so protecting dogs particularly puppies from disease and suffering should be a priority. I strongly advise owners to ask their vet about vaccinating against this disease and about booster vaccinations throughout a dog’s lifetime.

PDSA is warning pet owners in the affected areas and nationwide to be aware that parvovirus continues to pose a threat to dogs.

The charity are offering the following advice to dog owners:

• Signs of parvovirus include vomiting, diarrhoea, blood in the faeces, tiredness and loss of appetite.
• If you suspect your dog may have parvovirus, don't take them straight into a vet as this may spread the disease to other unvaccinated dogs and puppies in the waiting room. Instead, keep your pet isolated and call your vet immediately for advice.
• Don't 'wait and see' - the main symptoms of parvovirus are severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Dogs suffering from the disease often need intensive care very quickly so don't risk waiting. Phone your vet immediately.
• Fatality rates vary, but in some advanced stages they can be extremely high. For example, in puppies under eight-weeks-old, the mortality rate can be as high as 70% as the virus can affect a puppy’s heart
• Prevention is better than cure – if your pets aren't vaccinated, book an appointment with your vet today. This will protect them from parvovirus and other diseases such as distemper and leptospirosis in dogs, and leukaemia and feline enteritis in cats.
• Once vaccinated, the body's immune system response gradually fades over time, so regular boosters are required to maintain the protection. Ask your vet for advice on when your pet’s boosters are due.

Local Parvovirus Updates

USA - Parvovirus news
UK - Parvovirus news

Keep up to date with details of the latest regions affected by Parvovirus break outs in the UK on the Parvowatch Facebook group.

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