Vet warns dog owners of parvovirus

PORT HARDY-Several recent cases have left dogs hospitalized on the North Island; vaccinations recommended

North Island veterinarian Dr. Michael Paul is alerting local dog owners to recent cases of parvovirus on the North Island. The virus can affect all dogs but is particularly dangerous to young or small dogs, as well as particular breeds such as rottweilers or dobermans. It can be easily and inexpensively prevented through vaccination, which is routinely given to puppies along with distemper and hepatitis shots at nine weeks and followed by a booster three weeks later. This vaccination is then good for three years. The virus initially presents with lethargy and loss of appetite, and progresses to vomiting and diarrhea, especially bloody diarrhea as the virus attacks the intestinal lining, causing extreme dehydration, sepsis and, in many cases, death. As well as being preventable, the viral infection can often be treated successfully by veterinarians, but catching the infection in its early stages is a key factor. Clients of the North Island Veterinary Hospital can call the clinic to check the status of their dogs’ vaccinations, and the virus can be diagnosed through a simple test with the results returned in ten minutes. Vaccination remains the best protection against the virus. “It’s and easy and inexpensive prevention,” said Dr. Paul, noting that it’s much cheaper and more straightforward than the intensive treatment required once the virus has taken hold. The virus is not spread through direct dog-to-dog contact, but is highly contagious and spreads through direct or indirect contact with the feces or vomit of an infected animal. There have been two recent cases of the virus at the hospital. One case involving a lapsed vaccine while the other dog had received the nine week shot but had not been given the booster. Owners are reminded to keep their vaccinations up to date to prevent the spread of this and other contagious viruses.