Staff Report

Santa Barbara County Animal Services has noted a recent uptick of cases of canine respiratory disease and parvovirus infection in the Santa Maria area. The owners of dogs and puppies are advised to consult their veterinarians to ensure their animals are current on recommended vaccines and are informed about how to keep them safe and healthy.

Canine parvovirus is an extremely infectious virus that is present year-round in the environment. This virus can cause very serious disease and death in dogs and puppies. Symptoms of this disease include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Puppies are at greatest risk of contracting the virus, as their immune systems are not yet fully developed.
“The chances of a dog or puppy becoming infected with parvovirus are greatly reduced with proper vaccination,” said Dr. Ginger White, director of Shelter Medicine for Santa Barbara County Animal Services. “Not only can a simple vaccine potentially save your pet’s life, but it can save thousands of dollars in veterinary expenses and heartbreak for dog owners.”
Because they are higher risk for contracting parvovirus, puppies should be restricted from public outdoor areas until their vaccination series is completed at approximately 16 weeks of age. Most often, the parvovirus vaccine is combined with Distemper virus and Adenovirus type 2 vaccines, but this can vary.

There are multiple different infectious agents that can cause respiratory disease in dogs and puppies. There are vaccinations available to help prevent many, but not all, of these infections.

Dogs who are boarded, go to dog parks/beaches, group training, grooming, dog shows, and group walks are considered to be at a higher risk for infectious respiratory disease. It is recommended that these dogs be vaccinated against infectious respiratory diseases caused by:

Canine distemper
Adenovirus type 2
Bordetella bronchiseptica
Parainfluenza virus
Both types of canine influenza virus (H3N2 and H3N8).

Although vaccinations are generally very effective, they do not provide complete protection from infection in every dog.