PET SAFETY: Veterinarian Vicky McClure gives pomeranian Molly the once-over.
PET SAFETY: Veterinarian Vicky McClure gives pomeranian Molly the once-over. Gemima Harvey

Timely warning over killer virus

A COFFS Coast vet has warned residents about a sharp increase in the number of parvovirus cases in the area over the past several months.

There have been 19 confirmed cases of the severe virus reported in the region in the past year, renewing calls for dog owners to check their vaccination cards or contact their clinics.

Coffs Harbour Veterinary Hospital's Dr Vicky McClure said a leading cause of the increased number of cases was pet-owners failing to vaccinate their animals.

"No matter how young or old your dog is, it needs to be up to date with regular vaccinations," Dr McLure said.

Parvovirus infects the intestinal lining, causing profuse, bloody diarrhoea which then makes the dog septic by toxins absorbed into the bloodstream.

The virus can live in the environment for up to eight years and can infect dogs of any age, but unvaccinated puppies are more susceptible.

"The virus suppresses the immune system and that means the body struggles to fight off the virus.

Dr McLure said treating parvovirus was difficult due to its aggressive debilitating nature.

"It is incredibly contagious (and) very sad to see when a dog has contracted it."

Dr McLure said the disease was easily controlled by keeping pets up to date with their vaccinations.

"A full health check is always performed prior to vaccinating your pet so any other concerns you have can be discussed at that time."

For more information about parvovirus call the Coffs Harbour Veterinary Hospital on 6652 1577.