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Protect your pet: Vaccinations of dogs to prevent Parvo virus urged

By Staff | Feb 4, 2012

If you love your dog, Lee County Domestic Animal Services urges you to vaccinate your pet against a rapidly spreading, often fatal Parvo virus.

Spokesperson Ria Brown said the shelter has seen a rise in Parvo cases among stray dogs and puppies in the community.

“It is so important for people to get their dogs inoculated that we are putting out news releases to get the word out,” Brown said.

Parvo is a highly contagious disease that is expensive to treat and is often fatal, even with treatment.

Dr. Suzanne Vazzana, animal services veterinarian, said dog owners should not ignore the warning.

Whitney Whitford of Animal Medical Center of Lehigh and president of the Calusa Veterinary Medical Society also urges puppy owners to vaccinate their pets.

The vaccinations should begin at six to eight weeks of age with boosters given every three weeks until the puppies are 16 weeks old.

Brown said she didn’t know the price of the vaccinations. She said the shelter does not perform them for the public.

She urged dog owners to contact a veterinarian and ask price ranges. If the price seems high, she said dog owners might want to shop around at lower cost veterinarian offices.

Brown said the shelter had seen a rise in the summer and more cases in the off season.

She said that if owners do what their vets recommend, it should provide protection against what they are calling a deadly virus.

“It is not an epidemic but it is getting worse,” Brown said.

The Parvo virus is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces, according to a prepared statement put out by Lee County Domestic Animal Services.

The virus can live in organic matter in soil for more than a year and victims of the virus die of dehydration as the virus attacks the intestinal lining, according to Whitford.

Common signs for dog owners to watch for include severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Other signs to look for include lethargy, loss of appetite and “intussusception.” This is when a section of the inflamed intestinal tract telescopes into itself. This is an emergency, according to officials. The onset of clinical signs are usually immediate, often 12 hours or less.

The incubation from exposure to seeing the clinical signs varies from three to 10 days.

The disease is especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination.

“There is nothing worse to watch a pet that you love to go through this,” said Brown. “It is a sad thing to watch happen.”

That is one of the reasons that the Animal Services agency has taken such a proactive role.

“We vaccinate all dogs that come into our shelter against the Parvo virus.

“It’s important to get your puppies to a veterinarian and get the shots,” said Brown.

The shelter is at 5600 Banner Drive in Fort Myers.