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Beware of parvovirus

Whyalla News. 25/08/2008

The mild weather of late is providing perfect conditions for the spread of parvovirus infection in dogs warned local vets.

Owners are advised not to take unvaccinated dogs out around Whyalla due to the risk of catching parvovirus. Parvovirus is spread by dog faeces and the habit of dogs to smell any dropping they see laying around.

Dogs smell faeces in the environment to see what other dogs are around. It is a very useful habit in the wild to see who is eating your food supply but can be fatal in the city where large numbers of dogs inhabit a small area.

Parvovirus infection causes vomiting and severe bloody diarrhoea, which if untreated leads to dehydration and death. Any dog that is vomiting for more than 12 hours should be seen by a vet without delay.

However, it is well known that prevention is better than cure and dog owners are advised by vets to ensure that their dogs vaccinations are up to date.

Final year veterinary student from Melbourne University, Shallan Biddle, who is in Whyalla to get her clinical experience under supervision, as the final stage of her gaining her qualifications, has been looking after the dogs suffering from parvovirus infection. She says she was surprised to see so many survive.

“I think it is the ability to deliver accurate fluid replacement and keep the dogs warm” she said. “That seems to make the difference between them surviving or dying.”

She said that if your dog has vomited more than a few times, it is so important to get it looked at by a vet as soon as possible. “I have been surprised that so many people here think you can give a vomiting dog oral electrolytes, when the opposite is required.

“The stomach needs to be rested and if you are in need of fluid replacement, it needs to be done intravenously.”

Shallan says she has enjoyed her time in Whyalla, “It has gone so quickly, it seems like only yesterday I arrived” she said. “This is a such a friendly city and after driving in Melbourne, I love the peak hour traffic.”