Staff Report

Santa Barbara County Animal Services is reporting an alarmingly high number of cases of parvovirus in dogs in Northern Santa Barbara County, and officials are urging pet owners to check their animals’ vaccination status.

The Santa Maria Animal Center has seen nine confirmed case of parvovirus at the shelter in the last two weeks. The infected dogs have ranged in age from six weeks to five months. Local veterinary practices are also reporting a significant increase in parvovirus being brought in.

Parvovirus is most commonly seen in young puppies but can affect an unvaccinated dog of any age. It is spread from direct dog-to-dog contact, contaminated feces, or contaminated environments. All county residents are urged to keep puppies safe by not letting them outside of a fenced yard until they have received their vaccinations and are protected from the virus.

Unvaccinated dogs should avoid dog parks, beaches, pet stores, and other public places where other dogs may frequent.

Parvo is a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system and prevents the dog from being able to absorb nutrients. Symptoms usually begin with a high fever, lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite. Secondary symptoms appear as severe gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting and bloody diarrhea. In many cases, dehydration, shock, or death can follow.

Officials advise puppy owners to contact their veterinarian to receive the canine parvovirus vaccination series. Adult dogs should receive the parvo vaccination as part of their yearly vaccination package.