HEALTHY PUPS: Layla and Sonic with Megan Bridger and Kirstin Widderick from Stanthorpe Veterinary Care Services.
HEALTHY PUPS: Layla and Sonic with Megan Bridger and Kirstin Widderick from Stanthorpe Veterinary Care Services. Matthew Purcell

Protect your pets from deadly virus

THE expense of treating canine parvovirus (CPV) costs the same as providing vaccinations against the illness for 15-18 years, according to experts at Stanthorpe Veterinary Care Services.

Kirstin Widderick, a vet at the clinic, said it was vital pet owners understood the charges involved with treatment as the highly contagious virus was prevalent in the Granite Belt from October to February.

Ms Widderick said the cost comparison was crucial and she was keen to spread the word as vaccinations against the potentially fatal illness have also helped reduce parvo cases over the past five years.

"Not to mention that the treatment for severe parvovirus cases does not always result in sending the patient home alive, despite doing everything we can do. It is so easily preventable,” she said.

Ms Widderick said the clinic had cared for two dogs with parvo this season.

Survival rates depend on how quickly it is diagnosed, the age and condition of the animal, the type of treatment, and how well they respond - however about five years ago, more than 10 dogs were diagnosed with parvo each year.

"Parvo is everywhere. Some places have it worse than us and I wonder if that's because we have a higher rate of vaccinations,” Ms Widderick said.

She said 2012 had been a bad year, with between 20 and 30 dogs affected by parvo, probably due to post-flood conditions.

Symptoms of parvovirus include severe and bloody diarrhoea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, vomiting and severe weight loss.

"When they have parvo, they look terrible. They're flat, they're just lying there and they're vomiting. They don't care. They probably feel like they're going to die ... they just can't tell you,” Ms Widderick said.

She said if people were concerned or deterred by the costs of vaccination, they should consider the true costs of owning a dog.

"We've done the maths to help people understand. We can do supportive care, but if they're bad they might need plasma and that's very expensive.”

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