Veterinarians have warned of a potentially fatal disease in dogs after a surge in cases across the UK.
Sixty clinics reported 89 cases of parvovirus in dogs in the first five months of 2021, an 82% increase from the 49 cases reported in the same period in 2020.
UK veterinary network My Family Vets said the surge was due to a combination of a “lockdown puppy boom” and owners who are not keeping up with vaccinations.
Parvovirus is a potentially fatal disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract and immune system in dogs.
Stephanie Wilkins, 34, said she almost lost her cocker spaniel puppy, Cooper, after contracting parvovirus within a day of being introduced to the family.
She bought it to help her three children deal with their terminal breast cancer diagnosis by giving them “something positive to focus on”.
But the family was deceived by fake vaccination papers from breeders who sold the nine-week-old Cooper for £ 1,400.
“We thought it was just the new environment,” said Stephanie. “But he got really quiet and didn’t want to eat and when he suffered from severe diarrhea we knew we had to get him help.
“He was so sick that we were told he was unlikely to survive, which was appalling.
“The vets said they would try anything if we wanted and we thought we had to give him a chance. When I visited he looked terrible, like he just wanted to die and I didn’t want him to suffer. But every time he got really sick and it looked like every hour could be his last, he stabilized again. “
Cooper received intensive care and recovery at Bath Vet Group, although the disease had an 80% death rate in dogs.
Stephanie, a hospital worker, is now assisting the vets’ calls to make sure owners vaccinate their pets and seek immediate help if they discover their pup is not doing well.
She said, “I think in everything we’ve been through, we’ve overlooked some warning signs.
“You have to know that everything is real and definitely get all the vaccinations you need.”
Around 1,500 cases of parvo are observed every year in the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) clinics.
Early, aggressive treatment may include intravenous fluids to treat shock and control dehydration, anti-nausea medications, and highly specialized virus treatments.