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Parvo cases up in puppies during the COVID-19 pandemic

A yellow puppy with brown eyes cocks its head at the camera.
Jonathan Kriz

Veterinarians across the country have seen a spike in canine parvovirus during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Treasure Valley is no exception, with more unvaccinated puppies getting sick from the deadly disease.

Some pet hospitals nationwide have seen a 70% jump in cases of the highly contagious illness that mainly affects young dogs.

Dr. Dan Hume, Medical Director at WestVet in Garden City, said he’s seen a two-fold increase in parvo cases, compared to historical numbers. He said that’s partlybecause there are more puppy owners in the Treasure Valley.

“Everyone has probably heard that everyone has got a COVID puppy or a COVID pet during the pandemic,” said Hume.

And the dogs he's seeing are sicker than in the past. He says puppies with parvo are usually in the hospital for three to five days. But with this strain, some dogs have been hospitalized for seven or eight days and have required intensive care.

Some of the symptoms of parvo include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain/bloating
  • Fever or low body temperature

Parvo can come on quickly and can be fatal, according to Hume.
“We would be happy to never treat another dog because it is sad and no one wants to have sick puppies and to have puppies die." he said. "It makes everyone sad. It’s a very preventable disease.”

Dr. Hume said getting puppies vaccinated is the best way to prevent the disease and they need their first shot starting at six-to-eight weeks of age.

Until they are fully vaccinated, keep puppies away from dog parks, the Boise Greenbelt and places with other dogs. Also, get your new puppy from a reputable source and make sure to take your new family member to a veterinarian for a check-up.

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio