Island Veterinary Services warned on Wednesday that an outbreak of canine parvovirus is spreading on Grand Cayman.
Parvo virus can be fatal for dogs, and is especially dangerous for puppies aged six weeks to six months.
The virus incubates from four to 14 days before dogs show symptoms, which include fever, anorexia, lethargy, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea.
“Many dogs that are diagnosed with parvo will die,” Island Vet warned. “The virus attacks cells in a dog’s intestines and inhibits the absorption of vital nutrients. This means that a dog or puppy will become very weak and can die.”
Island Vet urged owners to have their dogs vaccinated if they are not already, stating that puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at the highest risk of contracting the virus. Puppies should have their first vaccine at six weeks old, and then get their second, third and fourth shots three weeks apart.
“After this, a yearly annual booster vaccination is recommended,” Island Vet stated. “This is all that is needed to prevent your dog catching this, almost always, fatal disease.”
Unvaccinated dogs should be kept out of public areas, as they can pick up the virus from infected dog feces, Island Vet stated. The virus can also be spread by humans with their hands and feet.
If your dog has parvo, call a veterinarian immediately for advice, Island Vet added.
“Most deaths from parvo happen within 48 to 72 hours after the symptoms begin. The quicker you seek help, the greater your pet’s chances of survival,” Island Vet stated. “Keep your dog away from other dogs, as it spreads easily. Tell your vet if you also have other dogs in your household, as they can give advice on how to stop it spreading around all your pets.”