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Whistler animal shelter warns of parvovirus cases in Sea to Sky

The highly-contagious virus has so far killed one puppy and sent two others to the animal hospital. Here's how to protect your pet.

Whistler's animal shelter is warning pet owners to take caution after the canine parvovirus killed one Sea to Sky puppy and landed its litter-mates in round-the-clock veterinary care. 

In a social media post Friday afternoon, June 9, Whistler Animals Galore (WAG) said the shelter recently received a call from a Squamish resident needing to surrender "some very sick puppies." 

Sadly, one of the pups did not survive. Shelter staff transported the remaining puppies to the vet, where tests confirmed both dogs were suffering from a life-threatening case of parvovirus. 

The pair, named Archie and Jughead, are currently hospitalized at Eagleview Vet, where they are "receiving the best supportive care possible," WAG shared in the post. If the puppies pull through the next few days, they will be transported to the Whistler shelter's isolation unit, where staff will continue to administer supportive care.

What is canine parvovirus, and how it is transmitted?

The deadly virus can affect dogs of all ages, but puppies and unvaccinated dogs are especially at-risk. Humans and other species cannot contract parvovirus.

The potentially fatal disease resulting from the highly-contagious virus attacks dogs' intestinal tract. Symptoms can vary, but generally include severe vomiting, bloody or foul-smelling diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. 

The virus is primarily transmitted through exposure to contaminated feces, and through contact with contaminated objects like hands, clothing, dog toys and bedding, to name just a few examples. The virus is stubbornly resistant to heat, detergents, alcohol and many disinfectants, aside from a strong chlorine bleach solution. As WAG shared in its post, the parvovirus is able to survive for more than a year in certain environments, like soil. 

There is no treatment to kill the virus once it infects a dog, according to veterinary hospital network VCA Canada. The best tool to prevent parvo infections, however, is vaccination.

WAG also reiterates the importance of picking up after your pet to slow the spread, and avoiding visiting high-traffic dog areas with your pet until they have completed the recommended vaccine protocol. If you suspect your pup may have parvovirus, get in touch with a vet immediately. 

As for the two WAG puppies currently battling the virus, the shelter invites anyone looking to help to donate to their critical care fund, or bid on one of the items currently up for grabs in WAG's spring online silent auction before it closes on Sunday, June 11 at 6 p.m.