KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Springtime weather brings concerns for dog owners.
Veterinarians say parvovirus, which primarily targets puppies, is a bigger problem than usual, after a winter season that wasn’t cold enough to kill every virus, including some that affect our dogs.
“Parvo is something you can never tell if they’re going to make it or not,” Rachel Lunsford, an urgent care tech at Pet Resource Center of Kansas City, said.
Parvo is an infection that targets puppies and young dogs. It can be fatal for young, unvaccinated dogs.
Vet workers say dogs often stop eating when they’re first infected, followed by lethargic behavior. The puppies usually experience intestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. It’s highly infectious for dogs, and it’s spread via their droppings. People are immune to parvo’s effects.
Vaccines are available, but they’re often too pricey for some dog owners. Low-cost pet centers, such as Pet Resource Center of Kansas City, can make the vaccines more affordable. That facility operates as a non-profit clinic, which receives financial support via grants and donations.
“We see two to three parvo cases every day. There’s some days where I can see five or six,” Lunsford said. “It’s sad to see sick animals come in.”
One veterinarian told FOX4 it can cost as much as $2,000 to care for an unvaccinated pup with Parvo. The virus requires immediate care, since an untreated animal can die within a week.
Kansas City Pet Project has an isolated Parvo ward, since the bug spreads so easily.
Tori Fugate, the Pet Project’s spokesperson, said the shelter has 12 puppies infected with parvo, which is more than usual. Fugate said it costs $500 per animal to care for the dogs. The shelter wants to heal the puppies quickly to enable them to be adopted by their “forever families.”
“It’s taking so much to take care of all these animals. It’s around the clock care they have to get — typically 14-to-18 days for every single animal,” Fugate said on Tuesday. “If you see these symptoms, you need to get treatment for this animal as quickly as you can.”
The current vaccination guideline, according to animal hospitals, is a vaccine beer three-to-four weeks, up until a puppy is 16 weeks of age. Parvo requires quick treatment once it’s identified. Dogs need veterinary care within 24-to-48 hours of visible symptoms.
With proper treatment, 90% of dogs recover. Parvo can infect all breeds of dogs.