The Pennsylvania SPCA is urging local residents to have their pets vaccinated against Canine Parvovirus, more commonly known as Parvo.
The PSPCA says they’ve seen an unusually high number of dogs suffering from the virus within the past few weeks.
“Parvo is one of the most deadly viral illnesses in our canine population,” said Dr. Lisa Germanis, a veterinarian on staff at the Pennsylvania SPCA. “In the past two weeks we’ve seen more than 20 cases of Parvo in our veterinary clinic. Typically we don’t begin to see this many cases until later in the spring and summer.”
The Parvo virus attacks the dog’s intestinal tract, white blood cells and heart, according to the PSPCA. The disease is extremely contagious, can live in the environment for over a year and can be life-threatening. The American Veterinary Medical Association says the disease is fatal in more than half of cases.
Dogs of all ages can contract Parvo but puppies are more severely affected, according to Dr. Germanis.
“While puppies are most likely to suffer severe disease and death, any unvaccinated dog, of any age, can become infected with Parvo,” said Dr. Germanis.
Parvo symptoms include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Severe, Often Bloody, Foul-Smelling Diarrhea
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms you should visit your veterinarian immediately.
“Catching the virus early may mean the difference between life and death,” said Dr. Germanis.
The PSPCA says most deaths from Parvo happen within two to three days following the onset of clinical signs if not treated.
Unvaccinated dogs can obtain the virus wherever there are other dogs, including the streets and parks. Pets should not be brought to these areas until they are fully vaccinated.
The PSPCA also warns cats can be affected by a feline form of Parvovirus known as Panleukopenia.
“Panleukopenia is also highly contagious and can be especially fatal to kittens,” said Dr. Germanis. “The clinical signs are the same as for dogs with Parvovirus.”
While the PSPCA have not seen a high number of cats suffering from the disease, they still recommend vaccination.
The PSPCA is offering low-cost walk-in vaccinations. They’re available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday and the first and third Saturday of every month at the PSPCA facility at 350 East Erie Avenue in Philadelphia. No appointments are necessary.