Staff at the Battlefords Humane Society is urging dog owners to make sure their pets vaccines are up to date as the facility put down three dogs infected with parvovirus in the last month.
According to Michelle Spark, manager of the animal shelter, the virus is very contagious and is easily transferred through direct or indirect contact with other dogs. She said the problem with parvo is it cannot be treated with antibiotics. The virus attacks the dog’s digestive system and intestinal tract.
The three dogs the shelter was forced to euthanize are the only three cases seen recently, but the virus has a high mortality rate, especially in dogs two years old and under, Spark said.
“It is imperative people vaccinate their animals,” Spark said. “People don’t realize that parvovirus is completely preventable through vaccination.”
Spark said the three dogs that died were not vaccinated. While the humane society vaccinates every new animal that comes in, Spark said it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to show and in a shelter environment with all the other animals, it can create a very dangerous setting.
“Say we get a little puppy off the highway, well he may appear completely healthy on intake and 10 days later he explodes with bloody diarrhea and vomit and turns out he has parvo. Well how many other dogs has he been in contact within the shelter? Probably all of them. We vaccinate every dog that comes in here, but that one vaccine isn’t enough,” Spark said.
Spark said it gets incredibly difficult for the shelter to deal with parvo after it is diagnosed. When a dog gets treatment for the virus it has to be quarantined for two to four weeks, which Spark said simply isn’t possible to do at the facility.
Spark added the virus is quite resilient. According to the manager it can live in the ground over a year and is typically most prevalent in the spring during the thaw and again in the fall. Spark said cases are rare during the winter, but due to this season being on the mild side, she isn’t surprised it is going around.
Spark said for dogs to be completely protected against parvo, puppies need a series of three vaccines four weeks apart and adult dogs need two vaccines four weeks apart to be fully vaccinated. Spark added owners who keep their pups up to date with their yearly boosters will have nothing to worry about.
Spark said fully vaccinated dogs cannot contract the virus when it comes into contact with parvo.
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