Post sees cases of canine parvovirus
Story by: Julie Fiedler
1ST INF. DIV. POST
With two cases of canine parvovirus recently reported at Fort Riley, residents should be aware of safety precautions and warning signs to help keep their dogs safe.
Canine parvovirus, or parvo, is an extremely contagious viral infection that can affect a dog's intestinal or cardiovascular systems.
The more common strain is the intestinal form, according to www.petmd.com, and symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
"(Parvo has) a characteristic appearance. These dogs are very sick," said Capt. Peter Sullivan, Branch Chief, Fort Riley Veterinary Services. "Prevention is vaccination. That's the best thing to do ... Vaccinate your dog against it."
The usual vaccination schedule includes a set of four shots at different ages for puppies and then regular booster shots afterwards.
Pets on post are required to have microchips and be vaccinated against rabies and distemper. Parvo vaccination is included with the distemper vaccination, Sullivan said.
Because adult dogs are often vaccinated against parvo, younger dogs are most at risk of getting infected.
"It's really the young puppies that are most at risk," he said.
Once parvo is introduced into an environment, it can be very difficult to remove and stays active for a long time.
"It's very hearty in the environment ... It stays around a long, long time in the environment," Sullivan said. "Especially outside, it's very difficult to take measures to clean it up."
Sullivan recommended keeping young puppies indoors to minimize their chance of exposure.
"Be aware that it's everywhere," he said. "If you have a young puppy, be aware of where you take your dog. Outside, you're at a high risk (and at) dog parks, too."
If a pet does become infected, seek immediate care for the animal.
"Definitely, I recommend, if at all possible, seeking vet care. That's going to give the dog its best chance," Sullivan said. "It's a race between the animal's immune system and the virus."
Additionally, pet owners should practice heat safety as temperatures rise and should not leave pets in cars.
"If they're outside, make sure they have access to shade, and they're monitored for overheating," Sullivan said.
Some types of dogs, like bulldogs, are especially prone to overheating and should be watched closely in hot weather.
For Fort Riley residents, a Family housing pet policy is in place to help ensure the safety of community members, both canine and human.
"The pet policy is in place for the safety and well being of all Family pets, as well as the safety and comfort of non-pet owners," said Alison Birney, community management director, Corvias Military Living. "The pet policy outlines the requirements for having a pet and the responsibilities of the owners when living on Fort Riley."
On-post residents can access the resident responsibility guide online at www.corviasmilitaryliving.com.
Fort Riley Veterinary Services is open during weekdays. For emergency or after-hours care, Sullivan recommends having a back-up veterinarian off post.
For more information on parvo or to schedule an appointment, call veterinary services at 785-239-3886.