The highly-infectious disease known as parvovirus is spreading among dogs in Yorkshire, according to a Huddersfield vet. Martin Paterson, director at Donaldson’s Vets, which has practised in Huddersfield, Calderdale and South Yorkshire, said a “significant number” of dogs have tested positive for the virus after experiencing gastroenteritis-like symptoms – or vomiting and diarrhoea.
It comes as dog owners across Yorkshire continue to report their pets falling ill as part of a ‘mystery illness’ sweeping inland from the coast.
Mr Paterson said that although there is often an “upswing” in the number of dogs experiencing such symptoms at this time of year, his practices are seeing a “higher level than has been the case previously.”
Speaking to Yorkshire Live, he said: “We have been testing the majority of these cases for parvovirus and we have turned up a number of dogs who have tested positive,
“A lot of them are very ill and need quite a lot of intensive, inpatient management to be able to turn them around.”
He stressed dogs testing positive for the virus are not showing the “very, very acute signs” that made the virus so deadly in the late 1980s to 1990s.
Mr Paterson, who moved to Huddersfield from Edinburgh 25 years ago, said not all dogs showing signs of gastroenteritis are testing positive for the virus but warned a “significant number” are.
He said: “It is difficult to be sure whether it is just a case of us testing more dogs for parvovirus, and that is reflecting what is going on more widely, or whether there is a unique issue in this area.”
The director of Donaldson’s Vets – made famous by featuring on Channel 5’s smash hit The Yorkshire Vet – said medics are struggling to uncover a pattern of infection.
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Mr Patterson said: “We are seeing dogs that have been to the seaside – where a lot of these reports are coming from – but we are also seeing a lot of dogs with gastroenteritis who have stayed locally,
“We have not been able to find any pattern to connect these dogs. They are of all ages, all breeds and all geographical areas across the branches of our practice.
“They (infections) do seem to happen quite randomly.”
According to Mr Paterson, symptoms of gastroenteritis among dogs include vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and an unwillingness to exercise.
He urged owners who notice such symptoms to seek medical attention immediately.
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“Come and see us,” he said. “We will often ask you to leave your dog in the car and we will examine them outside in the car park – just so that we’re not risking bringing anything into the hospital or the clinic.
“There is a relatively quick test that we can do on faeces to check for parvovirus.
“Some of these dogs can stay home and have treatment, but some need to come in and be put on a drip and be managed quite intensively in our isolation ward at Somerset Road, Almondbury.
“We have facilities that are specifically designed for managing these infectious patients.”
Mr Paterson said the best thing owners can do to protect their dogs against parvovirus is to ensure they have had their booster vaccinations.
He added: “Vaccination is highly effective at preventing serious illness and we do wonder whether some of the less severe cases that we have seen are because of these extra vaccinations suppressing how ill animals become,
“This is not coronavirus – there is no evidence that it is connected to Covid in any way.
“Booster vaccinations for dogs need to be done every 12 months – so if your dog hasn’t had their booster in that time, they are potentially susceptible to parvovirus.”