At Far North Vets and Pets in Kaitaia we recently got a timely reminder on the devastating effect of parvovirus. It was an all too common scene: young family with kids who had all become understandably attached to their new pet, good intentions of getting their puppy vaccinated but hadn’t gotten around to it and a nice well bred puppy on deaths door which unfortunately couldn’t be saved despite every effort made.
If the family concerned thought they knew the risks of parvovirus before – I can guarantee they will never forget now!! So for the record let’s go over what Parvo is and how it presents:
ANY dog of ANY age can contract Parvo
Parvovirus as the name suggest is a virus – it affects the gastrointestinal system
The Two most common signs are VOMITING and Bloody DIARRHEA
They can have one or the other or both at the same time
The most commonly affect animals are unvaccinated young dogs, old dogs and immuno-suppressed dogs (Pregnant, animals on Chemo etc)
Adult dogs can contract Parvo but will not show signs or will just have a brief diarrhea that they recover from quickly
Puppies have no fat reserves and cannot retain fluids like older dogs, because of this they die of ORGAN FAILURE due to DEHYDRATION. THIS CAN HAPPEN WITHIN DAYS OF CONTRACTING THE VIRUS!!
The virus is contracted via what is called the faecal-oral route. It can be contracted wherever a dog can come in contact with infected faeces or vomit. Therefore it can be picked up in public areas or even just visiting a family member or friend. The dog it picks up the virus from may not even look sick!!
The current and most common vaccination protocols based on risk of disease is:
Vaccination at 8 weeks of age and 12 weeks of age
Vaccination at 6 weeks, 9 weeks and 12 weeks of age
New recommendations in high risk areas are for a further vaccination after 16 weeks of age. This is to make sure that there is no chance of interference from antibodies that the puppies get from their mother’s milk.
This is a devastating disease. Beautiful innocent puppies die a horrific and rapid death. The cost of treatment needed to try to save these animals is crippling and owners are left heartbroken so I would like to finish on one last piece of advice:
If you have a puppy that is less than 4 months old and has never been vaccinated that is off its food or doesn’t look as playful as it normally is then please contact Far North Vets. It might not be anything but if there is an issue then the earlier we treat the easier and cheaper it will be in the long run. Not to mention we can prevent a lot of heartache along the way!
This is something we offer commonly as “another vaccination” hopefully when we offer this to you we explain it in a way you can understand in the 10-15 minutes we allow during a vaccination consult in the clinic but just in case you’re unsure on what it is hopefully this will help:
Leptospires are a group of bacteria that affect a whole group of species including: HUMANS, Dogs, Dairy and Beef Cows, Pigs and Rats
In the Far North the most common methods for transmitting Lepto are bites from rats and wild pigs and contact with the urine of dairy cows, rats and wild pigs.
Lepto can also live in soil and water for several days
In 2012 in New Zealand it is estimated that 2.5 of every 100,000 people contracted Leptospirosis of which 80% were occupational (dairy workers, pig hunters etc)
In humans Leptospirosis presents most commonly as eye infections or just a mild lingering illness
In dogs clinical disease presents as lethargy and vomiting that quickly presents to recumbancy and death.
The most common reason for death is acute renal failure as the bacteria cause damage to the liver and kidneys of affected dogs.
Treatment of affected dogs involves aggressive intravenous fluid therapy and a minimum 14 days of suitable antibiotic which is expensive.
Like all vaccinations 100% prevention is impossible what we hope for with any vaccination is to prevent how often disease occurs and how severe that disease is. For more information please feel free to contact us at the Far North Vets and Pets clinic in Kaitaia.