Deadly dog virus on the rise

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 06:52 12/02/2013

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A Palmerston North vet is warning dog owners to be careful where they take their canine companions, following an outbreak of parvovirus.

Malcolm Anderson said about a dozen dogs had been treated for parvovirus in the past week at Anderson’s Veterinary Hospital. None of the animals had survived.

‘‘It’s a nasty disease,’’ he said.

Parvovirus is highly contagious and is spread from dog to dog by direct contact, or indirect contact with their faeces or on a person’s clothing or shoes.

Some of the dogs seen by Mr Anderson and his staff were strays picked up by the SPCA. At least two had been brought in by their owners and were not vaccinated.

Mr Anderson said he had not seen an outbreak of parvovirus this severe since he first started out as a vet more than 20 years ago.

‘‘The last two years,  and particularly in the last week, it’s just been huge.’’

He was unsure what had caused the surge in cases but thought either the recent spell of hot weather or the potential development of a more virulent strain of parvovirus could be responsible.

His advice to dog owners was to get their animals vaccinated annually and to be careful where they took them in the next few weeks.

‘‘Keep them away from areas where there are a lot of dogs.’’

Owners should contact their vet if they noticed their dog vomiting, he said.

‘‘Vomiting’s the first sign of parvovirus, it progresses over the next day or two to vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. They’ll go off their food.’’

The vaccine cost about $60, which was a lot of money to some people but was nothing compared with the cost of their pet contracting parvovirus, he said.


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- Manawatu Standard

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