ELKHART COUNTY – A local Humane Society is finding several dogs do not have an important vaccination.
The parvovirus attacks a dog’s intestinal system, producing a life-threatening illness.
Dogs that end up with the virus run the risk of transmitting the disease to your pet, and you may not realize it until it’s too late.
From late spring through the summer, the Elkhart County Humane Society sees a surge in the number of animals dropped off, especially dogs.
Some are by owners, others by people leaving stray dogs.
Up to 500 dogs a month are left at the local animal shelter, many of them not vaccinated against the parvovirus.
Shots are usually given when dogs are still pups.
“What we have seen is an increase in older dogs coming in with the parvovirus, because people are not getting the vaccinations,” said Elkhart County Humane Society Director Anne Reel. “They think, ‘Oh, my dog is no longer a puppy, so it’s safe.’”
The parvovirus is extremely contagious and can produce a life-threatening illness.
Symptoms include pets being lethargic, severe vomiting, loss of appetite, and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea.
Reel says it has been her experience over time that some dog owners forget about getting the vaccine for their pets, and if that’s the case, it could mean trouble for the dogs down the road.
Dogs with the disease can spread it through contact with other dogs or through fecal matter from other dogs.
“The parvovirus lives in the environment, and it’s in parks, in dog parks; it’s around your local neighborhood,” Reel adds.
Jeanette Bradford, who owns several dogs, always makes sure her pets’ shots are kept up to date.
“We see the vet at least once a year, and they have to have among other things their parvo shots, because parvo is highly contagious, and you just never know when you are going to see other dogs and what they are going to have,” Bradford said.
Dogs that come down with the virus usually go through intensive treatment for the disease, and it can be expensive. The average veterinary hospital stay is 5 to 7 days.