Veterinarians warn of canine parvovirus outbreak in Sooke

Virus can affect dogs at any age, but is more likely to affect puppies

A recent parvovirus outbreak has been putting dogs at risk in Sooke.

Canine parvovirus is a contagious gastrointestinal disease, and when a dog becomes infected with it they will become lethargic, lose their appetite, begin vomiting and have diarrhea.

The virus is spread through a fecal-oral route, so if one dog comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces, they could become infected.

“It doesn’t even necessarily have to look like the dog has touched feces because the virus can remain in an environment for quite a while,” said Dr. Clare Tompkins, a veterinarian at the Otter Point Veterinary Hospital.

“The rain might have washed away the fecal matter but the virus could remain on the ground for a long time after.”

Tompkins said a dog coming in direct contact with an infected dog is another way parvovirus spreads.

If not properly treated, the virus can be fatal, especially in puppies who can become dehydrated very quickly. Dogs infected with the disease are treated with intervenes fluids to keep them hydrated, antibiotics, and medicine to help control the vomiting and diarrhea.

Tompkins said the main reason why these outbreaks can occur is when some of the dogs in a population aren’t vaccinated. The virus can affect dogs at any age, but is more likely to affect puppies.

To prevent parvovirus, Tompkins recommends that people get their dogs properly vaccinated. This includes a series of three vaccinations ideally at ages eight, 12 and 16 weeks, and then continue to regularly vaccinate to keep immunity up.

“The other thing people can do is pick up after their dogs walking in parks, public trails such as the Galloping Goose, and at Whiffen Spit. It would make the environment a lot healthier, cleaner and pleasant for everyone who comes along afterwards,” said Tomkins.

She also suggested preventing your dog from coming in direct contact with other dogs you don’t know.

If you have any further questions regarding parvovirus, contact your local veterinarian.

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