The first snow of the year has fallen and there will be a lot of dogs and cats enjoying the winter with their human family members inside their warm homes or cozy kennels. Unfortunately, there is always an increased number of animals after Christmas that are not so lucky. For example cats and dogs that have been received as Christmas gifts and the new owner might not have the time to look after them. Or the cute little Labrador puppy that has suddenly grown into a thirty kilogram dog and has become too large for the flat or apartment. While most of these animals get taken back to the breeders or to one of the local animal rescue centers there are always some very unfortunate ones that get thrown out into the cold. Caring members of the public who find them will then very often take them to us vets. It is always heartbreaking to see these poor creatures frightened and cold, sometimes undernourished and occasionally carrying infections, especially if they have not been vaccinated.
A particularly nasty disease that we see in unvaccinated, often young, dogs is parvovirus. It causes vomiting and watery diarrhea, often with blood. Untreated the dogs will die very soon of dehydration. And even with treatment,which involves several days of intensive care with fluids into the vein by a drip, antibiotics and sometimes blood transfusions, some of them will still not survive. That is always very upsetting for us at the vets, as we grow especially fond of patients that stay with us for a few days and require intensive nursing. And of course it is also very frustrating as the disease can be prevented by vaccination.
What makes parvovirus so dangerous is the fact that the virus survives for prolonged periods of time in the environment. Dogs can become poorly by playing where infected dogs have been to the toilet hours or days ago. And of course people can carry it home on their shoes. Recently there has been an increasing trend of confirmed cases in the Midlands and it seems that some strains of the virus can now also be transmitted from dog to dog via the cat.
So prevention is definitely the key and it shows the importance of having our animals vaccinated so that one day we might lose less and less dogs to that dreadful disease.
In the meantime We hope that all our two and four legged friends out there will have a warm and Merry Christmas.