11 dogs euthanized after increase in cases of parvovirus: Regina Humane Society

The Regina Humane Society is warning dog owners about a recent outbreak in the deadly parvovirus. FILE / Global News

The Regina Humane Society is warning dog owners about a recent outbreak in the deadly parvovirus; a highly infectious and often fatal gastrointestinal illness in dogs.

In the past few weeks, 11 dogs brought into the shelter has tested positive for parvovirus. All of those animals had to be euthanized.

“In a shelter environment it’s very, very difficult (to contain),” Bill Thorn, Regina Humane Society’s director of marketing and public relations, said. “We have to protect the animals, the general population that’s in the shelter, so we deal with it a bit differently.”

Thorn says they saw the first case around Christmas, when a female dog and her litter were brought in from a rural location. Other cases have been from both rural locations and within city limits, with the most recent case coming in this weekend.

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The shelter has isolated the dog kennels and implemented strict safety and sanitary rules in response to the outbreak.

“It’s a little unusual for this time of year. It’s usually something that’s a little more dormant in the winter,” Thorn said. “Our thinking is we had some cold weather (and) people were taking their dogs out and maybe not cleaning up as well, it gets covered up with snow, and then we had some warm weather and things start to melt, increasing the opportunity for exposure. We don’t really know for sure, but that’s probably the likely culprit.”

The virus is often spread through dog feces or saliva, but it can also live on the ground or on shoes and clothing.

“This particular virus is very hardy,” Albert North Veterinary Clinic owner Jo-Ann Liebe said. “It withstands freezing, drying out for a couple of years. So an animal that had parvovirus and left it on the ground, you won’t see anything but the virus can be there and picked up.”

Symptoms of parvovirus include weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, dehydration and bloody diarrhea.

“I hate parvo, the dogs get so sick and they lose weight. It’s an awful, awful disease,” Liebe said. “They rapidly dehydrate and can die without treatment.”

Albert North Veterinary Clinic Owner Jo-Ann Liebe says the recent spike in parvovirus cases could be because some pet owners aren’t vaccinating their dogs. Sean Lerat-Stetner / Global News

Liebe says they haven’t seen a parvovirus outbreak in Regina since the summer. She says it could be attributed to pet owners not vaccinating their dogs.

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“A lot of the time if people have a pet at home and don’t take it out they think they don’t need vaccinations. The problem is that the virus will track home on you, on your body (or) your shoes if you’ve been in an area where there is parvovirus,” Liebe said.

“I also wonder if people are vaccinating less because they’re afraid of vaccines and vaccine reactions.”

Animals that contract the virus can survive, if they are treated quickly. However, Liebe says it’s best to be proactive and address the issue before it’s too late.

“I really hate seeing dogs with parvo because I know it didn’t need to happen.”

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