Several dogs in Metro Vancouver have been diagnosed with canine parvovirus infection, a highly contagious illness that is potentially fatal. The Regional Animal Protection Society is urging dog owners to get their pets vaccinated against the virus. Call your veterinarian, or the RAPS Animal Hospital at 604-242-1666.
The canine parvovirus (CPV) can take two different forms. Most commonly, the virus attacks the intestinal system, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and lack of appetite. The virus may also manifest in a fever or, conversely, low temperatures. Less frequently, but more critically, the virus attacks the heart muscles of fetuses and puppies, often resulting in death.
Most cases occur in puppies between six weeks and six months old. Early vaccination can dramatically reduce the likelihood of a dog catching the virus or suffering the most serious consequences of it.
Symptoms include severe and bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, fever and severe weight loss caused by the body’s inability to absorb nutrients. Dehydration and weakness occur quickly and the tissues of the mouth and eyes may become noticeably enflamed or reddened. Rapid heart rate is also common.
Parvovirus is usually spread through contact with an infected dog or their feces. The virus is concentrated in an infected dog’s stool, so can be transmitted by sniffing an infected dog’s stool or anus. It can also be spread via shoes that have come into contact with virus-infected feces. The virus can also live in soil for as much as a year and is largely unaffected by most cleaning products. To clean a parvovirus-contaminated area, safely dispose of all vomit and feces, then wash the area thoroughly with concentrated household bleach solution, one of the only known means of killing the virus. It is recommended not to have a puppy in any home that has had a parvovirus-infected dog for several years.
Again, please contact your veterinarian for a vaccine and, if any symptoms of the virus are present, call ahead to arrange to bring your pet to the hospital without coming in contact with other animals.