Santa Fe Scoop

News story: Puppies at risk for parvo

An uptick in cases of a deadly puppy disease has prompted at least one veterinarian clinic to encourage people to make sure their animals are properly vaccinated.

Karen Reyer, a veterinarian technician at Ark Veterinary Hospital, said her office has seen an increase in cases of parvovirus in puppies recently. In the past month, the clinic has treated three to five puppies a week with the disease. Some have died, she said, and some have survived, but the disease is largely preventable.

“It’s just a tragedy,” she said, “our hearts are absolutely breaking for these babies.”

Puppies should begin their vaccinations when they are between six and eight weeks old or when they stop breast-feeding. The vaccinations continue at monthly intervals until puppies are about 3 months old.

The virus, which is spread by contact with an infected dog’s feces or urine, is about 80 percent fatal among young puppies. Symptoms include lethargy, diarrhea, fever, vomiting and loss of appetite. Ill puppies might require hospitalization, intravenous fluids and intensive nursing care. The costs of saving an animal can be expensive.

Adult dogs who haven’t had the vaccinations also are susceptible, Reyer said. The virus is always prevalent, but cases seem to increase in the fall.

Dog parks should be off limits to young puppies, and adult dogs in the same household should not go to dog parks where they may pick up the virus until the puppy has been completely vaccinated, she said.

The possibility of a parvo outbreak is always taken seriously at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, said Bill Hutchison, its communication’s manager. “It’s to the point of annoying people, but we have to be careful,” he said.

The shelter offers low-cost vaccinations through its Wellness Clinic, 2570-B Camino Entrada, next to the Outback Steakhouse. Vaccination clinics are held from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. the first and third Friday of each month. No appointment is necessary. For more information, call the clinic at 474-6422.

The Española Valley Humane Society also provides low-cost vaccinations most mornings from 9 a.m. to noon. Appointments aren’t neccessary, but call the shelter at 505-753-8662 to make sure a veterinarian is on duty.

This story by Ben Swan originally appeared in the New Mexican on Oct. 5, 2008

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