Vets warn dog owners about Parvovirus

Protect your pets: Dog owners are encouraged to check that their dog's vaccinations are up-to-date to prevent them from contracting Parvovirus.
Protect your pets: Dog owners are encouraged to check that their dog's vaccinations are up-to-date to prevent them from contracting Parvovirus.

Brechin dog owners are being urged to ensure their dogs are up to date with their Canine Parvovirus vaccinations after outbreaks of the disease have been reported in Laurencekirk, Aberdeen and Dundee.

The Crofts Veterinary Centre in Brechin has highlighted the dangers of the disease after treating a dog in the town after it came in to contact with a confirmed case of Parvovirus in Dundee.

Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral illness. It manifests itself in two different forms.

There is the intestinal form, which is characterised by vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, and lack of appetite.

The second form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death.

Lindsay Cameron, a veterinary surgeon at Crofts, said: “We have been made aware of an outbreak of Parvovirus in dogs, with cases in both Dundee and Aberdeen.

“Indeed one dog that was in contact with a confirmed case in Dundee has been treated in Brechin.

“Canine Parvovirus is a severe disease of dogs, causing bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, dehydration and heart problems.

“It can be fatal, especially in young dogs. It spreads from dog to dog in faeces and the virus is very tough, being able to survive for long periods in the environment.”

Dogs that develop Parvovirus infection show symptoms of the illness within three to 10 days of contacting the virus. The intestinal (gut) form of the disease is the most commonly seen form.

Mr Cameron explained: “Symptoms of Parvovirus include:-

l Lethargy.

l Vomiting.

l Fever.

l Diarrhoea (usually bloody and usually foul smelling).

“The diarrhoea and vomiting lead to dehydration: the lining of the gut is damaged, allowing secondary infections to set in, and blood and protein to leak into the intestines leading to anaemia.

“Infected cases have a distinctive odour at most stages of the infection.

“The white blood cell count falls, further weakening the dog’s resistance to secondary infection.

“Any or all of these factors can lead to shock and death.”

The treatments available for this illness consists of the following:-

l Replacing lost fluid to correct dehydration.

l Gut protectants.

l Anti-emetics to reduce vomiting.

l Antibiotics to control secondary infections.

The gut lining can be damaged, causing a tendency to diarrhoea for a long period after an infection, sometimes lasting the dog’s lifetime.

Up to 90 per cent of dogs with untreated cases of Parvovirus will die, and even with aggressive therapy, between five and 20 per cent may succumb.

The cardiac form of the disease is less common and affects puppies infected before or shortly after birth until about eight weeks of age.

The virus attacks the heart muscle and the puppy often dies suddenly or after a brief period of breathing difficulty.

As with many diseases, prevention is better than cure.

Mr Cameron commented: “Prevention is achieved by vaccination, and also by good hygiene – clearing up after your dog, and avoiding exercising your dog in areas obviously contaminated with other dogs faeces.

“It is essential that young pups do not have contact with unknown dogs, or go into areas used by other dogs until at least a week after their second injection.

“Parvovirus is one of the components of the normal vaccinations given to pups, usually a course of two injections two to four weeks apart with yearly boosters to maintain the protection.

“As older dogs are also susceptible to Parvovirus, as well as other diseases, it is essential that their vaccinations are kept up to date.”

Robsons Vet have also had a confirmed case of Parvovirus in a very sick puppy at their Laurencekirk Hospital.

To get more information on protecting your dog from Parvovirus, please contact your Veterinary Surgeon.