DALLAS — Veterinarians at Casa Linda Animal Clinic said they have seen an alarming rise in the number of dogs contracting canine parvovirus.
"I've seen more cases in the last three weeks than I usually see in an average year," said Dr. Tamara Johnson.
The clinic near White Rock Lake has seen 24 cases in the last three weeks. Four dogs have died.
In a regular year, Casa Linda would normally get a couple of cases of the highly contagious parvovirus each week in the spring and fall.
It's uncertain why this year is worse than others for parvovirus, but vets suggest that you avoid taking your dogs to parks, pet supply stores or even your own front yard until they've had the necessary vaccines and boosters. The virus is spread via feces.
"They can go to the park," Johnson said. "Another dog could have been there six months ago with the virus. They can pick it up on their feet. They go home. They lick their paws. That's how they pick it up."
A simple test can confirm the intestinal virus, which does not affect humans.
"You know, I've heard of it, but I really thought it was the kiss of death," said dog owner Carl Page.
Page said he thought the shelter vaccinated his dog, Murdoc, before Page adopted him.
Vets say the outbreak of dogs with the intestinal virus right now involve pets that either never got vaccinated or never returned for all their booster shots.
After five days of fluids and close monitoring, Carl Page got to take Murdoc home, along with that common vaccine to prevent parvo from striking again.
Common symptoms include severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Veterinarians said the bloody diarrhea will also have an unusually strong odor. Dogs with the parvovirus also exhibit a lack of appetite, lethargy, depression and fever. Vets warn the vomiting and diarrhea are the most dangerous, though, because they can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.