Veterinarians are warning of a Latrobe Valley outbreak of the deadly parvovirus.
The disease attacks the digestive system of dogs and, if left untreated, will kill 90 per cent of dogs that contract it.
Latrobe Veterinary Hospital veterinarian Lisa McConnell said there was a surge in parvovirus deaths across the Latrobe Valley in recent weeks.
She said the Valley’s outbreak was an isolated case with no reports of outbreaks across other parts of the state.
The situation was severe and cause for alarm, she said.
“It’s a virus affecting dogs, with a very high mortality rate. Most dogs will die,” Dr McConnell said.
Death usually occurs within a 48-72 hour window after symptoms, the main being severe bloody diarrhoea and vomiting, are first detected.
“The thing is, though, it’s easily prevented by keeping vaccinations up to date,” Dr McConnell said.
Her advice for dog-owners is simple.
“Ensure all puppies, which are most at risk, get their eight, 12, 16 week vaccinations and their yearly boosters, and make sure you vaccinate on time,” Dr McConnell said.
“If dogs aren’t vaccinated, don’t let them down the street.”
She said the disease could be eradicated for good through herd immunity- when the vaccination of those able to be immunised provides a level of protection for animals too young to develop immunity.
But the region’s low immunisation levels meant this had not been achieved.
Dr McConnell advised owners to keep all unvaccinated dogs at home away from other dogs.
If symptoms are detected, it is recommended owners keep their dogs quarantined and contact their local vet for treatment options- usually including fluids, antibiotics and nursing care.
Treatment success rate was about 80 per cent, Dr McConnell said, but this rapidly reduced the longer the disease was left untreated.
“It’s really about prevention, prevention is always better than treatment,” she said.
If you suspect your dog has parvovirus isolate the animal and immediately contact your local vet.