The fatal virus is infecting puppies, devastating pet owners across the city.
Goutham, a resident of Whitefield, got a three-weeks-old puppy from a pet store. The puppy contracted parvovirus after some time and died within weeks.
It was a golden retriever. “After I brought him home, within a week he was diagnosed with parvovirus. He just lived for two weeks,” he said.
Veterinarians say there is an increase in cases of parvovirus among pets, as they see around five to six such cases every day.
The canine parvovirus causes parvo in pups. The virus is infectious and spreads by direct or indirect contact with an infected dog or contaminated material. When a puppy sniffs, licks, or consumes contaminated excrement, it might be exposed to the parvovirus. Puppies between the ages of six weeks and six months are the most vulnerable to parvo. Puppies less than six weeks old retain some of their mother’s antibodies, provided that the mother had received the entire round of parvo vaccines. Puppies can be immunised against parvovirus till 12 weeks of age.
Dr Lohitha from Bangalore Pet House, Whitefield, said, “The dogs are susceptible to the disease until they have gotten all three doses in their immunisation regimen. Therefore, the pet parents must be vigilant during this period to keep their puppies from being infected to the virus.” To acquire enough protection, puppies should get a dose of canine parvovirus vaccination between 14 and 16 weeks of age, regardless of how many doses they have previously gotten, she added.
She further added that most pets get this illness during summer and rainy season. “During the winters, we don’t see as many instances.”
There have been cases when an adult dog has been infected with the parvovirus even after being immunized. “In these circumstances, we administer one or two doses of re-vaccination. In most cases, we give a single dose; in rare cases, we give two doses,” she said.
Just like Goutham, a similar problem was faced by Rahul, a resident of Electronic City. “A few months ago, in the month of January, I got a puppy from a pet shop,” said Rahul. The puppy was of Cocker Spaniel breed and he paid around Rs. 26,000 for it. “It caught parvovirus after three weeks and died four days later. I returned to the pet store and requested for a replacement.”
The pet store gave him a Beagle as the breed he wanted was not available. “However, this new puppy also died from parvovirus just a week after I got it home,” he said.
After the second puppy died due to parvovirus, the pet store owner demanded Rs. 17,000 for the new dog. “My friends have also experienced the same issue. Nowadays, many puppies are contracting parvovirus,” he added.
Sudeendra, owner of Sudeendra Pets in Vijaynagar, said they have incurred losses due to increased parvovirus infection amongst the pets. “Customers are coming to us for replacements or refunds as more puppies contract parvovirus. It’s tough for us to replace the puppies since it is a loss for the company,” he said,
He added, breeders provide a few instructions to the customers before selling a dog. “We ask that they only feed dry branded food to them and that they do not give them milk. Customers, however, do not follow our advice. Instead, they give them the food that the vendors recommend, which is of inferior quality.” He explained that puppies are lactose intolerant and they are unable to absorb all the milk given to them. “ We usually offer consumers one to two days to request a replacement or refund for a parvovirus-infected puppy,” he said.
Dr Satya, veterinarian at Neha Veterinary Clinic, Yelahanka New Town, said, “Parvovirus is an airborne virus that may be avoided. Female dogs used for breeding should have a full course of parvo vaccines since the puppies will rely on the mother’s antibodies for the first few weeks of life. People should not expose their puppies to unvaccinated dogs until they have gotten all of their parvo immunizations. The virus often affects dogs’ gastro-intestines and cardiovascular glands. Every day, we encounter five to six pets infected with parvovirus.”
She added that dog parks and other areas where dogs congregate might be a source of parvo, so pet owners should focus on socialising their puppies in a less public setting. Parvo is a potentially fatal and extremely infectious illness. People should be aware of the symptoms of parvo as well as how the disease spreads. It is essential to get treatment from a veterinarian as soon as they notice symptoms in their puppies.