Fears over lockdown surge in deadly canine virus

Fears over lockdown surge in deadly canine virus

Illegal breeders may lie behind lack of vaccinations

Vets have told of their fears that the highly contagious canine parvovirus could surge after a ‘lockdown puppy boom’ during the Covid pandemic.

Canine parvovirus spreads from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their faces.

Edward Davies, chairman of the UK clinical board at My Family Vets, said: “Due to the lockdown puppy boom and the whole Covid situation, ensuring preventative health care has been correctly followed for al pets has been a real challenge.”

Vaccines can prevent infection, but the rate of mortality can reach 91%t in untreated cases.

What is parvovirus?

  • Parvovirus attacks cells in a dog’s intestines, stopping it from absorbing nutrients
  • This causes weakness and dehydration
  • Symptoms includes foul-smelling diarrhoea with blood in it, vomiting, loss of appetite, collapse, depression, fever and sudden death
  • Dogs and puppies can be vaccinated against parvovirus from the age of six weeks. Boosters are needed.
  • It is a highly contagious virus that spreads easily through unvaccinated dogs

Lara Wilson, a lead veterinary surgeon at the Vets Now pet emergency hospital in Glasgow, told The Independent: “Unfortunately we are seeing dogs presenting with sickness and diarrhoea symptoms on a daily basis at the moment, which is not the normal pattern.”

‘Huge increases’

She added that the Covid-19 pandemic has “resulted in a huge increase in dogs testing positive for canine parvovirus”.

Vets have also expressed fears that some new dog owners may have turned to illegal breeders and so-called ‘puppy mills’ where guidance and support on vaccination is not clear.

According to research by My Family Vets some 45% of registered pet owners are reported to have not received their initial vaccination course or subsequent boosters.