Veterinarians have issued a warning to puppy owners in the ACT after multiple confirmed cases of the highly-contagious parvovirus was reported in the nation’s capital and the surrounding region.
Parvovirus is a potentially fatal gut infection that causes extreme vomiting and diarrhoea leading to dehydration, lethargy, septicemia and even death in severe cases.
This virus can be spread directly through contact with an infected dog or through faeces or indirectly through items like water bowls, collars and leashes or the hands or clothing of people that have touched an infected dog.
Puppies less than one year of age are most at risk however older unvaccinated dogs can also contract the disease.
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Jim Riach from the Hall Veterinary Surgery said most dogs will recover with aggressive supportive treatment if started early but puppies commonly die from the disease.
“There have been a few cases around Canberra and I think it first popped up in Tuggeranong,” he said. “When a little puppy gets it, it can die very quickly because it is hard to treat.
“When a dog is a bit older and has a stronger immunity, it can survive from the infection but it is pretty hard on them. They basically diarrhoea blood, they have fever, vomiting and they are incredibly unwell.
“The first symptoms are a fever so they get a bit sluggish. If owners see foul-smelling diarrhoea with blood, rush your puppy to the vet.”
Mr Riach said the virus is preventable and is covered in a dog’s normal C3/C5 vaccination but parvovirus can remain active in infected soil for years, including at ovals or dog parks where an infected dog has been.
“It is quite a stable virus in the environment under favourable conditions and it can survive up to two years,” he said. “Importantly, you don’t need direct contact between dogs for them to pick it up.
“The virus particles pass out in the poo and dogs always check out other dog’s poos and that is essentially how they pick it up.”
If you notice decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea or lethargy in your pet please call your vet ASAP. Click here to read more about the virus.