Dog owners are being urged to be on their guard after a series of outbreaks of suspected parvovirus, a potentially fatal canine disease.
Leading veterinary charity, PDSA, has reported an increase in suspected cases at its PetAid hospitals in Belfast, Derby and Bow – a total of about 80 suspected cases at these PetAid hospitals in one month alone. PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury, said: “We have already seen 30 such cases in one month at our PetAid hospital in Belfast this year. Compared to the number of monthly cases the hospital saw this time last year – seven – this is a huge increase and a large number of dogs suffering from an entirely preventable disease.”
There has also been an increase in the number of suspected cases at PDSA’s PetAid hospitals in Gillingham, Leeds, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Manchester and Bow. In total, these PetAid hospitals saw over 100 suspected cases in one month.
Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly infectious disease that can lead to death. It mainly affects younger dogs and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, mucus or blood in the faeces, tiredness and loss of appetite.
Some dogs can survive the infection with intensive veterinary and nursing care but PDSA has seen an increase in the number of dogs dying from this disease. For example in 2009 the number of fatal cases in one month was 39 but this year to date this has increased to 43.
Ms Pendlebury continued: “The effects of canine parvovirus are very distressing to witness and it is often fatal. It is particularly serious in puppies as they also risk heart disease from this virus. If your dog starts to vomit or develops diarrhoea then it is crucial to contact your local veterinary practice as soon as possible.
“Parvovirus is preventable through vaccination, so protecting dogs particularly puppies from disease and suffering should be a priority. I strongly advise owners to ask their vet about vaccinating against this disease and about booster vaccinations throughout a dog’s lifetime.”
PDSA is warning pet owners in the affected areas and nationwide to be aware that parvovirus continues to pose a threat to dogs. Ms Pendlebury added: “PDSA is drawing attention to these outbreaks because dog owners should be aware parvovirus is possibly present in these areas. At our PetAid hospitals nationwide we have seen an increase in the number of pets we are treating and therefore the number of suspected cases is higher as a result. This disease can cause terrible and unnecessary suffering if dogs are not protected from the disease. “