A string of parvovirus-related pet deaths in Nelson has vets urging dog owners to get their puppies fully vaccinated against the disease.
In the last month, 12 dogs in the Washington Valley and Victory Square area have died from the virus, and it is now spreading around the city.
Parvovirus is a disease that most commonly affects puppies, and it attacks a dog's intestine, white blood cell count and in some cases the heart.
Veterinarian Scott Field said dogs display warning signs five to seven days after contracting parvo, and face a 95 per cent mortality rate if never treated.
"Warning signs are vomiting, diarrhoea or a puppy that seems dull and lethargic," said Mr Field, who warns the disease is passed from dog to dog via faecal matter.
One possible reason for these deaths is puppies only receiving one of the three vaccinations they need to be immunised, or not receiving any at all. Mr Field said it was vital to give puppies all three vaccinations at six, 10 and 14 weeks, because their natural immunity can initially counteract the vaccine.
Mr Field said a major turnoff for owners getting the whole round of vaccinations was the price, but getting them was significantly cheaper than treating an infected dog.
"The vaccination is pretty cheap and straightforward when you're looking at the cost of if they do get it."
Mr Field said fully vaccinating a puppy cost around $100-$200, but treating a dog which had contracted parvovirus could be around 10 times that price.
As parvo can survive in the open for up to two years, puppies that have not had all three vaccinations should keep away from busy dog areas.
On top of the puppy vaccinations, dogs should continue to be vaccinated against parvo every three years.
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