Flooding spreads deadly pet virus

Veterinary surgeon Catherine Tiplady with her Chihuahua Poppy who has been vaccinated against parvovirus.
Veterinary surgeon Catherine Tiplady with her Chihuahua Poppy who has been vaccinated against parvovirus.

IPSWICH vets have reported a recent spike in canine parvovirus cases, with the floods cited as a possible cause.

Dogs usually pick up parvovirus from the soil, with early symptoms including loss of appetite and lethargy, followed by bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.

If left untreated, the virus can be fatal within a matter of days but while there is no cure, most dogs will recover with specialised treatment.

Silkstone Veterinary Surgery vet Sam Allmark said the current weather conditions were ideal for the spread not only of parvo, but also hookworm.

“At the moment we are seeing two or three cases of parvo a day – there has been a definite increase over the last month or so,” Ms Allmark said.

“The best way to stop it is to stay on top of prevention; make sure vaccinations are up to date.”

Animal Welfare League (AWL) Ipswich veterinary nurse Lisa Boyes said it was possible that floodwaters had aided the spread of parvovirus, given the fact she had also noticed a recent increase in cases.

Ms Boyes said several pet owners had brought puppies into the AWL vet who had displayed early symptoms as mild as going off their food.

“There is no diarrhoea so they leave it for a few days – and then it can be too late,” she said.

“There is a fairly good survival rate, but that all depends on what condition the dogs are in when they arrive.

“There is no cure for parvo, all we can do is give them fluids and antibiotics and medication to stop the diarrhoea.”

Puppies less than 12 weeks old are most at risk of dying from parvo.

Death can occur from dehydration and weakness and electrolyte disturbances.

Once a dog gets parvo and survives, its natural defences build up and it is less likely to suffer symptoms of the virus again, however, vets strongly recommend that all dogs are fully vaccinated.

Puppies usually have their first needle at six to eight weeks, returning for booster shots a month apart for the next three months, followed by one booster shot per year.

Warning signs

High temperature

Loss of appetite

Lethargy, lack of interest in toys, playing

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