Vaccinate your dog to prevent parvovirus

A doing being treated for the parvovirus.

The SPCA is urging dog owners to keep their dogs’ vaccinations up to date to prevent them from contracting canine parvovirus.

Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokeswoman Belinda Abraham says parvovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs. It spreads through the faeces of infected dogs and is often fatal.

Common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and loss of appetite.

The virus is extremely resilient and can live on faecal or other organic matter for up to a year.

It can be present anywhere such as parks, beaches, streets and even on the soles of your shoes.

Ms Abraham said it was impossible to eliminate the virus.

The virus incubated for around 10 days and an infected dog would not display any symptoms before then. Puppies, she said, should be vaccinated at 8, 12 and 16 weeks and adult dogs should be given a booster shot every one to three years to ensure the best immunity possible.

The vaccination takes 10 to 14 days to build immunity and public areas should be avoided until 14 days after the last vaccination has been administered.

Young puppies (under 1 year) and black and tan dog breeds such, as Rottweilers, German shepherds and pinschers are highly susceptible to the virus, and pet owners should exercise every precaution to avoid placing their dogs at risk.

Marcelle du Plessis, from the Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha, said the clinic was seeing the worst influx of parvovirus in the 24 years of its existence.

On average, she said, the clinic saw about 33 cases a month and admitted around 16 to hospital.

“In October, our consultation room saw 100 cases of which 59 were admitted. November saw 73 cases of which 35 were admitted,” she said.

Ms Abraham said because the parvovirus was highly prevalent during the summer, a high admission rate was not abnormal.

Ms Du Plessis said the clinic’s hospital, which caters for seven animals at a time, was full and the clinic’s distemper isolation unit had to be converted into a temporary parvovirus unit.

“They have also had to place cages outside the units to accommodate all the cases,” she said.

The Mdzananda Animal Clinic is in a difficult financial position due to the national lockdown.

Ms Du Plessis said the clinic had lost R145 000 due to individual donors cancelling debit orders between March and November and about R1.1 million in fund-raising activities had to be cancelled.

“The parvo influx has put strain on our funding as it costs a minimum of R1 500 to treat one parvo case,” she said.

Email or call 021 367 6001 to find out more about how you can help the Mdzananda Animal Clinic.