VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver-area dog owners are being urged to vaccinate their four-legged pets after at least six dogs were diagnosed with parvovirus.
The dogs were from the downtown area. Four of them passed away after getting sick.
Highly contagious and often fatal parvovirus, or parvo, attacks the gastrointestinal system of dogs and can also damage the heart muscle. The virus is transmittable through contact with an infected dog’s feces and can live in an environment for several months or longer. Puppies and non-vaccinated adult dogs are highly susceptible to the illness.
“Parvovirus causes vomiting, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea and lethargy,” says Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA. “A dog with parvovirus may also have difficulty absorbing nutrients, increasing the risk for dehydration and malnutrition. Even with treatment, dogs can develop sepsis and die.”
Puppies should receive vaccines on a schedule determined by the dog’s veterinarian. Typically, these start at six to eight weeks of age, with follow-up boosters at four-week intervals until 16 to 20 weeks old and another booster at one year. Adult dogs who did not have a full set of parvo vaccinations as a puppy should receive at least one shot.
“We are concerned that the 6 dogs, most of which did not survive, may have exposed other dogs in the community,” adds Dr. Gordon. “We urge any guardians of unvaccinated puppies or dogs to see their veterinarian and to seek immediate help if their pets show symptoms of the disease.”
The BC SPCA offers free vaccines and basic preventive care the last Thursday of every month to pets of homeless guardians or those living in SROs in the downtown eastside.
The next clinic is Thursday, June 27th from 10 am – noon at Oppenheimer park.