Summer brings a higher risk of parvovirus among dogs and Hamilton City Council’s Animal Education and Control Team is seeing an increasing number of dogs infected with the virus.
“Parvovirus is rife in Hamilton. This is a devastating and usually fatal disease, but one which can be easily prevented with vaccinations,” says Animal Education and Control Manager Susan Stanford.
“Unfortunately, we have had to euthanise five dogs with parvovirus who had been in the kennels for less than a week in the last month,” she says.
The incubation period of the virus – the time from exposure to developing symptoms – is seven to ten days. Symptoms of parvo include vomiting, diarrhoea, blood in the faeces, loss of appetite, fever, severe weight loss and lethargy. There is no cure and treatment to manage the symptoms is intensive and costly.
“With a seven to ten-day incubation period, these dogs have already been carrying the infection before ending up in our care and while out roaming, they’re leaving infected faeces around our city,” says Ms Stanford.
“However, it’s not just roaming dogs that can spread it, a dog may be infected but not yet show symptoms. They then spread the virus while out on a walk with their owner. It’s sad to say, but our streets are full of it.”
Parvovirus is highly contagious, difficult to destroy and can persist in the environment for over a year. It is spread through direct or indirect contact with an infected dog and a small amount of infected faeces can carry enough virus to infect thousands of dogs.
“To prevent your dog getting parvovirus, ensure they have had all the required vaccinations before taking them for walks or a play in the park – one vaccination is not enough. When out walking with your dog, be sure to pick up its poop to help prevent the spread of disease and keep our city clean,” says Ms Stanford.
“Parvovirus is a cruel and painful disease and if you have seen a dog suffering with it, it’s not something you forget. Sadly, our staff have seen too many cases of it.”