Outbreak of deadly dog virus ‘parvo’ prompts warning from BC SPCA

A employee of a veterinary clinic in West Kelowna holds a group of puppies treated for parvovirus in September, 2018. Global News

The BC SPCA is warning Vancouver dog owners to get their pets vaccinated after a number of dogs contracted a highly-contagious canine virus.

According to the SPCA, at least six dogs in the downtown area have recently been diagnosed with “parvovirus,” also known as parvo, a disease that attacks dogs’ gastrointestinal systems and heart muscles, and can often be fatal.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island dog owner issues warning after pet dies of bacterial infection

The SPCA says the virus can be transmitted through contact with an infected dog’s droppings, can live in an environment for months, and is highly resistant to disinfectant.

Puppies and unvaccinated dogs are highly susceptible to infection, it said.

WATCH: (Aired: Sept. 11, 2018) Puppies Saved form Potentially Fatal Disease

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Puppies Saved form Potentially Fatal Disease

“Parvovirus causes vomiting, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea and lethargy,” Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA, said in a media release.

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“A dog with parvovirus may also have difficulty absorbing nutrients, increasing the risk for dehydration and malnutrition. Even with treatment, dogs can develop sepsis and die.”

READ MORE: Deadly canine disease detected in Saskatoon

Gordon recommended that puppies be vaccinated as early as possible — starting as early as six weeks — based on a veterinarian’s schedule.

Adult dogs that haven’t been fully vaccinated should also get a shot, she said.

According to the SPCA, most of the dogs that recently contracted parvo did not survive and officials are concerned they may have spread it to other animals.

The SPCA will also hold free vaccine clinics for pets of the homeless or people living in SROs on the last Thursday of every month from 10 a.m. to noon at Oppenheimer Park.

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