Vets issue warning over fatal parvovirus surge in dogs

Vets have issued a warning over a potentially fatal illness in dogs after a rise in cases around the UK.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 4:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 4:54 pm

Sixty clinics have reported 89 cases of parvovirus in dogs in the first five months of 2021, a rise of 82% from the 49 cases reported over the same period in 2020.

UK vet network My Family Vets said the increase was down to a combination of a “lockdown puppy boom” and owners not keeping up with vaccinations.

Parvovirus is a potentially fatal illness which attacks the gastrointestinal tract and immune system in dogs.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Cocker spaniel puppy Cooper who contracted parvovirus, for which he was successfully treated.
Cocker spaniel puppy Cooper who contracted parvovirus, for which he was successfully treated.

Stephanie Wilkins, 34, said she nearly lost her cocker spaniel puppy Cooper after it contracted parvovirus within a day of being welcomed into the family.

She bought it to help her three children deal with her terminal breast cancer diagnosis by giving them “something positive to focus on”.

But the family was duped by forged vaccination papers from the breeders, who sold nine-week-old Cooper for £1,400.

“We thought it was just the new surroundings,” Stephanie said. “But he became really quiet and wouldn’t eat and when he started having bad diarrhoea, we knew we had to get him help.

“He was so ill that we were told he probably wouldn’t survive, which was horrendous.

“The vets said they would try everything they could if we wanted, and we just felt we had to give him a chance. When I went in to see him, he looked awful, as if he just wanted to die and I didn’t want him to suffer. But every time he got really bad and it looked as if every hour might be his last, he would stabilise again.”

Cooper received intensive treatment at Bath Vet Group and recovered despite the disease having a fatality rate of 80% in dogs.

Stephanie, a hospital worker, is now backing vets’ calls to ensure owners are vaccinating their pets and seeking help straight away if they see their puppy becoming unwell.

She said: “I think with everything we’ve had going on, we missed some warning signs.

“You’ve got to know everything is genuine and definitely make sure you get all of the vaccinations you need.”

The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) clinics see around 1,500 cases of parvo every year.

Early, aggressive treatment can include intravenous drips to treat shock and combat dehydration, anti-nausea medication and highly specialised viral treatment.