First noted in a death after a recent Pet Expo at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, the dog illness Parvovirus appears to be on the rise throughout the area, prompting recommendations by several organizations on preventing its spread.
In early November, a dog that attended a pet expo in Puyallup died of Parvovirus, according to the America's Family Pet Expo’s Facebook page. The world’s largest pet and pet product expo was held at the Puyallup Fair & Events Center on Nov. 3 and 4.
Many other Puget Sound areas have reported dogs becoming ill with the virus, which attacks the lining of the digestive system, causing severe fever, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea, including due to the increasing incidence of the illness. Young dogs that haven't received a full three doses of vaccinations are particularly vulnerable, though an increased number of cases have been reported in fully vaccinated animals as well.
The reason for the dog park closures in some areas is that Parvo is highly contagious, and wet winter conditions facilitates spread of the disease, which is spread mainly by contact with the feces of infected dogs--whether directly or if it comes home on your shoes, for example. It can take 7-10 days from exposure for a pet to become ill, and treatment can be very expensive, the Seattle Times reports.
In late November, Kirkland Dog Off-Leash Group (KDOG), which maintains and supports Kirkland's only dog park, posted this on its Facebook page:
"We're hearing lots of news reports about a spike in cases of Parvovirus in King County. We've not heard of any cases at Jasper's Dog Park, and unless the City of Kirkland notifies us otherwise, Jasper's Park remains open, but it's crucial for all of us to ensure that our dogs are up-to-date on vaccinations. One of the park rules is that puppies under 6 months of age are not allowed at the park, for this reason and others. Also, if you have an elderly dog or a dog with a compromised immune system, it would be a good idea to refrain from visiting any public spaces where other dogs are present until the reports of Parvo cases decrease. Apparently Animal Critcal Care & Emergency Services (ACCESS) issued a warning to area veterinary offices over the weekend about 7 recent cases -- ACCESS usually treats about 18 cases in a year, and they've seen 27 this year, so there's been a spike. If you are visiting Jasper's Park, please remember to quickly pick up after your dog and if you need to bring water for your dog, bring a portable water bowl for your dog that is not shared with other dogs. We'd also suggest not bringing any toys or balls to the park because another dog could get ahold of the toy or ball.
"If your dog is showing any signs or symptoms of illness, please don't bring your dog to the dog park. Parvo symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and lethargy."
Edmonds Parks and Recreation Director Carrie Hite recommended the following, though parks in Edmonds remained open: "If your dog has been ill, or showing any unusual signs, please keep your dog at home and seek veterinary care. The canine Parvovirus is highly contagious and dangerous, especially to young dogs."
If you're not sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date, check with your veterinarian, and if your dog is at risk, you might want to avoid dog parks.
The recommendation for Parvovirus vaccinations (CPV) is at 8, 12, and about 16 weeks of age for puppies; a booster at one year; and boosters every three years thereafter.
The website WorkingDogs.com offers additional information on the disease, and effective ways to combat its spread.