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Dog owners have been protecting their puppies from the deadly canine parvovirus for decades, but local experts say the virus has increased in recent weeks.
Veterinarians in the northeast and province are warning people of dogs that contract parvo, and the Timmins and District Human Society told CTV that the number of dogs infected in the past four months is the highest in years.
“This season we’ve seen our tenth Parvo case,” said Alicia Santamaria, the shelter’s manager.
“It started out as a stray, but then we saw them being brought in as surrenders.”
Parvo destroys a dog’s intestinal lining, causing severe fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
It is transmitted through a dog’s feces and is most dangerous to puppies that are not vaccinated against the virus. Santamaria said this is behind most of the recent cases.
Owners who turned their dogs over to their shelter either couldn’t afford to get their dog treated or couldn’t find an available vet, she said.
The humane society has an in-house Parvo isolation center for infected dogs where staff tried to treat them and hopefully get them back to health.
Of the dogs treated at the shelter, three died and the rest recovered.
When dog owner Josee Dupee found out about the tip in cases, she went straight to her vet to make sure her pup, Toby, was safe.
“I take my dog to dog parks and various walking trails around town,” said Dupee. “I found out that he is vaccinated and is fine … (I’m not worried) as long as I watch him make sure he doesn’t get involved.”
Get your puppy stung
Some veterinarians in Timmins offer vaccination clinics and encourage dog owners to give their pets the necessary vaccinations.
Advice from experts includes making sure dogs are up to date with the correct shots, avoiding letting them roam free, or letting them sniff or eat feces.
Although dogs can still be infected with parvo, experts said vaccination is the best protection to reduce the risk of severe symptoms. Puppies should get the shots by six weeks of age.
According to Santamaria, owners must be particularly vigilant with ungaxed dogs, especially young puppies.
“If a puppy isn’t vaccinated, stay away from other dogs,” she said, “avoid places like dog parks and really high-traffic places where other dogs might be.”