URGING IMMUNISATION: Dr Ian King from Ballina Veterinary Hospital with Simba.
URGING IMMUNISATION: Dr Ian King from Ballina Veterinary Hospital with Simba. Patrick Gorbunovs

Vet issues warning after deadly dog disease found at Ballina

DOG owners in Ballina are being urged to vaccinate their pets against parvovirus after several confirmed cases in the past few months.

Veterinary surgeon Ian King from Ballina Veterinary Hospital said it was common to see an outbreak of the disease somewhere in the region each year.

"It's often at the beginning of summer, but we've seen a few cases later than that," he said.

"The last case I saw that was confirmed was a week ago."

Canine parvovirus is a contagious disease spread by body fluid such as saliva, urine or faeces.

It often results in the animal being hospitalised, with the death rate in young non-vaccinated puppies more than 80%.

Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting and foul-smelling dysentery or diarrhoea.

Dr King said one of the first signs of the disease was severe depression.

"The dogs become incredibly sad, and they'll just sit at the water bowl and drink and drink and drink and then they'll have diarrhoea," he said.


  • Canine parvovirus infection is a relatively new disease that first appeared in 1978.
  • Young puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated are particularly susceptible to the effects of this virus.
  • The death rate in young non-vaccinated puppies can be greater than 80%.
  • Symptoms include depression, vomiting and diarrhoea.

   SOURCE: Australian Veterinary Association

"If pups are less than 18 weeks of age, they don't usually have the reserves to survive the disease, and it causes septicaemia and strips out their gastro-intestinal tract to the point where their whole lining is passed.

"I don't believe they ever fully recover."

The disease is highly contagious and is "extremely difficult to eliminate" from environmental sources such as soil and mulch.

Unvaccinated dogs that are brought into town can contaminate walking areas and pass on the virus.

Puppies in particular have a tendency to lick other dogs around the face, which can result in them contracting the disease.

The canine virus can also be transmitted via boots.

For example, if someone steps in faeces on the footpath and their dog licks the boot when they get home, the disease can be transmitted.

Dr King said the best way to avoid having your pet pick up the disease who to immunise.

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