PUPPY owners are being urged to vaccinate their new dogs against parvo after a rise in cases during recent weeks.
Veterinary surgeons have raised concerns after seeing an increasing number of dogs became ill with the virus in the Seaham area.
In one case, the owner took the decision to have their dog put down because of its suffering, while others were saved by treatment including being hooked up to a drip.
Canine parvovirus is highly contagious and causes symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea.
Jason Atherton, who owns Value Vets in Church Street, Seaham, is among those who have grown concerned for the welfare of dogs.
He has seen five dogs undergo surgery in the last few weeks and believes the rise is down to owners failing to have their puppies vaccinated because of the tough economic times.
The vet, who also runs the West Way surgery in Pelton, said: “We’ve had these five cases in less than a fortnight and in one case, unfortunately the dog was put to sleep because the owner realised it was too ill.
“Puppies are most at risk because of their immunity and it really is nasty and can lead to death in extreme situations.
“But all it takes is a vaccination, generally around when the puppy is about eight to 10 weeks old,
“We’re just mindful we’ve had so many in such a short period of time and it’s obviously a problem in Seaham.
“It does tend to happen where there’s a poor area because people cut back on vaccinations.”
He added the death rate in cases of the virus stand at between 16 to 35 per cent.
Vets say the cost of the jabs varies in the region, with booster treatment roughly around £27 in East Durham compared to around £40 in Newcastle.
Other symptoms of the illness include mucus or blood in the faeces, tiredness and loss of appetite, with the virus mainly passed through faeces.
Parvovirus is a contagious virus mainly affecting dogs.
The disease is highly contagious and is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces.
It can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination.
It has two distinct presentations, a cardiac and intestinal form.
The common signs of the intestinal form are severe vomiting and dysentery.
The cardiac form causes respiratory or cardiovascular failure in young puppies.
Treatment often involves veterinary hospitalisation. Vaccines can prevent this infection, but mortality can reach 91 per cent in untreated cases.
Canine parvovirus does not infect humans.