Vets are warning dog owners of a surge in deadly parvovirus

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (WDAF) – Parvovirus, which primarily affects puppies, is a growing problem this spring, vets say.

Parvovirus, or parvo, can infect any dog, but it can be especially dangerous — even deadly — to young or unvaccinated dogs. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted from dog to dog or through contaminated feces or surfaces American Veterinary Association (AMVA). While people can spread the virus through their hands or clothing, people are immune to the effects of parvo.

Once infected, the virus attacks a dog’s gastrointestinal system.

“You can never tell with parvo if they’ll make it or not,” said Rachel Lunsford, an emergency medicine physician at the Pet Resource Center in Kansas City.

Veterinarians say that when dogs are first infected, they often stop eating and then behave lethargically. Puppies usually show intestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration.

“If you notice these symptoms, you need to treat this animal as soon as possible,” said Tori Fugate of the Kansas City Pet Project.

Parvovirus cases typically increase during the spring and summer, he writes Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, because more endangered puppies are born. Exposure and transmission are also increasing as dogs spend more time outside and in parks.

Parvo cases have also increased since the pandemic, according to data Sugar River Veterinary Clinic in New Hampshire, as some pet owners may have defaulted or skipped vaccinations altogether during lockdown.

“We see two to three cases of parvo every day. There are days when I can see five or six,” Lunsford said. “It’s sad to see sick animals coming in.”

The Kansas City Pet Project has an isolated parvo station because the beetle spreads so easily. “It costs so much to take care of all these animals. They need 24-hour care — typically 14 to 18 days for each individual animal,” Fugate said Tuesday.

Vaccines are available and puppies should be given a dose between 14 and 16 weeks of age, the AMVA says. Some owners may find the vaccine too expensive, but low-cost animal centers and nonprofit clinics can make it affordable.

The cost of treating the virus can also be significant. A veterinarian told Nexstar’s WDAF that caring for an unvaccinated puppy with parvo can cost as much as $2,000. The virus requires immediate treatment as an untreated animal can die within a week.

With proper treatment, 90% of dogs recover.

Related Articles

Back to top button