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Parvovirus: a preventable killer

The dogs that are most at risk are young puppies and unvaccinated animals (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

There is a dark cloud over the canine community. Parvovirus cases have rocketed and we are seeing a surge in very sick puppies and unvaccinated dogs.

So, what is parvovirus? And what can you do to help?

Parvovirus is a very infectious disease that can be fatal. The virus attacks the cells in a dog’s intestines and stops them from being able to absorb vital nutrients. This means that they become very weak and dehydrated.

Symptoms of the disease include, bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, depression and sudden death. These animals are very weak and need to be treated as soon as possible if they are to survive. Treatment options include medication to stop nausea, fluids and supportive care. Animals can take seven to ten days to recover.

The dogs that are most at risk are young puppies and unvaccinated dogs. Parvovirus spreads through body fluids, including poop and vomit. It can survive in the environment for at least six months and likely much longer.

Your dog can contract parvovirus by sniffing poop and from coming into contact with bedding, food and water bowls, carpet and kennels. It can be spread on human clothing, shoes and unwashed hands.

The good news is that there is a vaccine that protects your dog from parvovirus and this is where we need you to take action.

Make sure your dog is vaccinated. If they are already vaccinated, you don’t need to worry, they are highly protected.

If your dog is not vaccinated, or you are not sure, contact your vet to find out and to schedule a visit. The parvovirus vaccine is part of the core vaccines we routinely give to dogs but it is important these vaccines don’t lapse, especially in the midst of an outbreak. Vaccination may be life-saving for your pet.

I would love to know that every dog in Bermuda is safe from this deadly and preventable disease but we need you to work with us to get this outbreak under control fast.

• Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. She is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda

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Published June 20, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated June 20, 2024 at 7:37 am)

Parvovirus: a preventable killer

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