A parvovirus outbreak hit the area a little early this season, according to a Great Falls veterinarian.
Dr. Michelle Richardson at Big Sky Animal Medical Center said they had some puppies come in at the beginning of the month that all had parvovirus.
“It’s a little early in the year usually for a parvovirus outbreak, but anytime you see collections of puppies, unvaccinated puppies, those chances go up," Richardson said. "So a lot of times, animal shelters or rescue groups may be a little more prone to disease because they bring in animals that haven’t previously been vaccinated.”
Parvovirus is a virus that effects mostly puppies by causing issues with bone marrow, white blood cells, intestinal lining, and heart muscles, according to Richardson.
She said the virus is avoidable as long as pet owners follow up on the vaccines and shots needed for their puppies.
“I think all in all, parvovirus is a very preventable disease if you get those puppies vaccinated early and follow up on their booster shots and until they’re completely vaccinated, avoid contact with unvaccinated dogs or areas where unvaccinated dogs have been because the virus lives quite a long time," she said.
A puppy should get its parvo vaccination at six-to-eight weeks old and follow up with a series of booster shots until four months old.
She added pet owners should keep their unvaccinated puppies out of places like dog parks.
“No puppies in the dog park until they’re fully vaccinated. It’s just not worth the chance," Richardson said. "The socialization is great, but until they’re fully vaccinated and your veterinarian gives you the okay to expose them to those sorts of areas, I would avoid them.”
Two puppies that were brought in for treatment died, but the rest of the puppies are doing well and should be up for adoption soon.