Vancouver pet owners warned after dogs die of dangerous virus

Jun 20 2019, 5:02 pm

The BC SPCA is requesting  Vancouver-area dog owners to vaccinate their pets against parvovirus after six dogs in the downtown area were diagnosed with the virus.

Parvovirus — also known as parvo — is a highly contagious disease that attacks the gastrointestinal system of dogs and can also cause damage to the heart muscle. Parvo is often fatal.

The virus is transmitted through contact with the infected dog’s feces, is resistant to many disinfectants, and can linger on surfaces for several months.

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

Dr. Gordon says puppies are particularly vulnerable and should receive vaccines on a schedule decided by the dog’s veterinarian. These typically start at six to eight weeks of age with follow-boosters.

Adult dogs who did not have a full set of parvo vaccinations as a puppy should get at least one shot.

“We are concerned that the 6 dogs, most of which did not survive, may have exposed other dogs in the community,” said Dr. Gordon. “We urge any guardians of unvaccinated puppies or dogs to see their veterinarian and to seek immediate help if their pets show symptoms of the disease.”

The BC SPCA is offering free vaccinations and basic preventative care on the last Thursday of every month to pets of homeless guardians or those who live in SROs in the Downtown Eastside.

The next clinic takes place on June 27 from 10 am to noon at Oppenheimer Park. Guardians can sign up by emailing [email protected].