There has been a noted increase in canine parvovirus infections during the spring and summer months, said the Tshwane SPCA this week.
Puppies should receive their first vaccination at six weeks of age with two more vaccinations thereafter at nine and 12 weeks of age to avoid infection, Tshwane SPCA veterinarian Dr Marianna Bergh told Pretoria East Rekord.
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What is the canine parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that spreads easily from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their faeces.
Bergh said dogs could be infected through oral contact with canine parvovirus in faeces, infected soil or fomites – objects or substances capable of carrying infectious organisms.
“The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells such as those in the lymph nodes, intestinal lining, and the bone marrow,” she said.
This results in depletion of the white blood cells necessary for the immune system to function, delaying the recovery of infected puppies.
She said the rapid death of the intestinal cells resulted in the breaking away of the intestinal lining, vomiting, diarrhoea, and severe intestinal bleeding.
“This may eventually lead to the death of your puppy if left untreated.”
What are the symptoms to look out for?
– Bloody diarrhoea
What can a dog owner do if they suspect their dog has been infected?
Bergh said dog owners should take their dogs to a veterinarian immediately if they suspect parvovirus.
“The prognosis for a dog with parvo improves if treatment is started early.”
She said that while statistics were not readily available as some owners did not seek medical attention for their pets, it has been noted that the number of canine parvovirus cases spiked in spring and summer and declined during winter.
How can dog owners safeguard their pets from the virus?
The only way to prevent parvovirus is through vaccination.
“Your veterinarian will assess your puppy on its first visit and will provide you with the dates for the follow-up vaccinations.”
Dogs are usually vaccinated annually, including for the parvovirus.
“Should you have a puppy that has parvovirus, care should be taken when introducing new puppies into your environment as the parvovirus persists in the environment for long periods of time.
“With parvovirus, as with many other viruses that affect dogs, prevention is better than cure,” said Bergh.