Vancouver pet owners urged to vaccinate dogs due to outbreak of potentially fatal virus

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      The B.C. SPCA has issued a warning for all pet owners to ensure their dogs have been vaccinated for a highly contagious and potentially fatal viral disease.

      On June 20, the B.C. SPCA stated that at least six dogs in the Downtown Vancouver area have been diagnosed with parvovirus, also known as parvo, which attacks the gastrointestinal system of dogs and can damage the heart. According to CBC News, four of the six puppies that had been diagnosed with parvo have since died.

      The virus can be transmitted through contact with an infected animal’s excrement, is resistant to disinfectants, and can survive in an environment or on surfaces for several months.

      “Parvovirus causes vomiting, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea and lethargy,” B.C. SPCA senior manager of animal health Dr. Emilia Gordon stated in a news release. “A dog with parvovirus may also have difficulty absorbing nutrients, increasing the risk for dehydration and malnutrition. Even with treatment, dogs can develop sepsis and die.”

      Puppies and non-vaccinated adult dogs (who should receive at least one shot) are particularly vulnerable to the illness. According to the B.C. SPCA, puppies should receive vaccines on a schedule that usually start at six to eight weeks of age, with follow-up boosters.

      The B.C. SPCA offers free vaccines and basic preventive care on the last Thursday of each month to pets of homeless owners or anyone living in SROs in the Downtown Eastside. The next clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday (June 27) at Oppenheimer Park.

      For more information, visit the B.C. SPCA website.