Pet owners cautioned about parvo virus

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Officials with the Mahoning County Dog Warden’s office are asking pet owners to be responsible and vaccinate their dogs against a highly contagious virus.

Rick Tunison is the kennel manager and vet technician at the Mahoning County Dog Pound. He is asking dog owners to protect their four-legged friends and get them vaccinated against the parvo virus. It only affects dogs, but can live on clothing and in the environment for months.

“We do get a lot of parvo cases,” said Tunison. “It is not going to be killed by the sunlight. It is not going to be killed by the cold. Usually, you have to use certain products that actually kill the parvo virus.”

Symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, decrease in activity, diarrhea, and in some cases it is fatal.

Only about six of the more than 500 dogs brought in to the pound so far this year had the virus, but when they are kept in close proximity, such as kennels, it can spread fast.

“Six may not seem like that much, but that has the potential with six positives to come in and affect 500 dogs in a very quick route,” said Tunison. “It can also affect the community. If you have four or five dogs that are out there running around with parvo, it can affect the entire community.”

Most of the dogs at the pound are strays. Since there is no medical history on the animals, they could have shed the virus while they were out running the neighborhoods.

“We always recommend the community make sure their dogs are up to date and have been vaccinated appropriately,” said Tunison.

Tunison said it is also a good idea to follow up with your veterinarian if your dog gets lost and comes home a day or two later.

Puppies less than one year old are most at risk. Tunison recommends taking your dog to the vet to update its vaccinations, which may include a booster shot each year.

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