A DISTRAUGHT pet owner is warning other York residents about the dangers of a highly infectious virus that killed her dog.

Lesley Gardiner, 73, of New Earswick, in York said she had to have her 13-year-old lhasa apso/pug cross Ginnie put to sleep after her beloved dog contracted deadly parvovirus while out on a walk.

Ginnie was fully vaccinated and, as an older dog was at far lower risk of catching the virus.

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Lesley said she wants to warn people that the vaccine is not necessarily a complete defence and said people should act fast and contact a vet if your dog starts to display any of the symptoms.

"It was so sudden, so quick. From the first time she was sick until we were at the vets," said Lesley.

"All the information I have read since her death is about puppies, young dogs and unvaccinated dogs getting it, but Ginnie had had her vaccine and wasn't a young dog."

Lesley said that she took Ginnie for a short walk in the village on Thursday night close to the Joseph Rowntree offices at about 8.30pm. Back at home about half an hour later she started being sick and got worse through the night to the point that she called the vet at about 2am after the little dog had had two bouts of severe watery diarrhoea.

At 7.30am the next day Ginnie was taken to the vets and sadly had to be put to sleep. Lesley said she's now worried that her other dog, Ginnie's sister, Betty, will get the virus.

Canine parvovirus can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea and may result in death. Puppies under six months and unvaccinated dogs are particularly vulnerable since their immune systems aren't as well developed. 

Dogs typically pick up the virus when they are out exploring.

A spokesman for the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) said: "It’s shed in the poo of infected dogs three to four days after they are infected, then for a couple of weeks after their symptoms clear up.

"Unfortunately, it can then survive in the environment for months to years – meaning it can be found almost anywhere that dogs go, such as gardens, parks and fields.

"It can also travel in dirt, so can be found on the bottom of shoes, inside houses, on dog leads, collars, bowls, clothes, toys, and even on human hands."

Here are the most common signs and symptoms of Parvovirus that pet owners need to be aware of, according to PDSA:

  • Severe diarrhoea (foul smelling, watery and bloody)
  • Vomiting
  • Severely low energy (lethargy)
  • A very high, or very low temperature
  • Pale gums
  • Abdominal (tummy) pain
  • Reduced appetite
  • These symptoms usually take between three to seven days to appear.

PDSA urges pet owners to contact a vet immediately if their pooch is displaying any of the above parvovirus symptoms.

It added: "Let them know you think it might be parvo, and wait outside the clinic until your dog is called in to prevent spreading it to other dogs in the waiting room.

"There is no need to contact your vet if your dog has simply come into contact with parvovirus, just monitor them closely for symptoms and call your vet for advice if you’re concerned."