Nasty virus can be fatal

City warns dog owners of parvo outbreak


An outbreak of parvovirus in Iqaluit has left at least 15 dogs dead, prompting bylaw officers to warn dog owners to keep a close eye on their pets.

Parvovirus attacks a dog's intestines, heart and white blood cells and can cause bloody stool, vomit and bleeding from the eyes. Other symptoms include diarrhea and lethargy. It can become untreatable within 72 hours, said city bylaw officer Rod Mugford.

"Once it gets to a certain stage, that's it. The dog is done for," he said.

Loose dogs are more at risk of contracting parvovirus "because they're more interactive with other dogs," Mugford said. The city was shipping strays to the Ottawa Humane Society until several of those dogs tested positive for parvovirus and the city was asked to stop.

There is a vaccine available for parvovirus, but it has to be administered in two rounds of shots about a month apart before it's effective.

"Until he had his second round of shots, we kept him away from other dogs and areas where he might come into contact with other dogs' business," said resident Gavin Willins, who owns a German Shepherd-Husky cross named Fezzick. "He didn't get past our front deck."

Willins said he limited Fezzick's exposure to only people in controlled areas during the period between the first and second round of shots.

"It was a little difficult at times because we wanted to get him socializing with other dogs, but we used the time to get a pile of training in so it worked out pretty nicely," he said.

Dog owners should keep their animals inside or on a leash if loose dogs are around, Mugford recommended. Owners should phone the city if they're worried about loose dogs in their neighbourhood, he added.

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