Pet owners are advised to take note that canine parvovirus season is back, and it is important to have their dogs vaccinated against this deadly virus if they have not done so yet. According to the Animal Welfare Society of SA (AWS), spring usually brings an increase in the number of parvo cases, with nearly half the clinic’s day patients testing positive for the virus.
Parvovirus affects only members of the dog family, and Mitchell’s Plain has been identified as a potential hotspot as there are many unvaccinated dogs in the vicinity.
Dogs who have not yet been vaccinated can easily defecate millions of the virus particles with each bowel movement, and these infectious particles can live in soil for years. Dogs owners are also advised to be vigilant, as their shoes can also carry the virus and spread it further within the household, and on to their pets.
Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and bloating, fever or low body temperature ( or hypothermia), vomiting, and severe – often bloody – diarrhoea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhoea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock.
Any puppy that displays symptoms of having parvo should be taken to a veterinary service for immediate treatment. Unvaccinated puppies and young adult dogs are at the highest risk.
According to AWS, puppies will receive three parvovirus vaccinations in their first few months, while adult dogs receive one annually. A reduced rate of R110 is charged for vaccinating sterilised pets, or if the owners agrees to have their dog sterilised.
Pet owners are also advised not to get new puppies unless their existing dogs have been vaccinated.