Prevention is better than cure

WELCOME to the first of a series of columns from Robson & Prescott Vets.

We are Morpeth’s oldest veterinary surgery and now boast 12 vets with specialisms covering medicine and surgery in small animals, exotic pets, horses and farm animals.

We have branches in Ashington, Blyth, Bedlington and Seaton Delaval.

We hope to bring you some interesting tales and useful advice from our wealth of knowledge and experience.

It is of course a cliché that prevention is better than cure.

It is all too easy to become complacent about vaccination or bogged down in all the controversy surrounding vaccination of children and dogs in the media, but the simple truth is this: It is truly heart-breaking to watch an animal die despite nursing it round the clock when 10 minutes in the vet’s once a year could have made all the difference.

Lately, parvovirus in dogs seems to be increasing in prevalence in the local area. The disease is often fatal.

Parvovirus can affect unvaccinated dogs of any age, and we have had both litters of pups and adult dogs coming into the surgery displaying signs.

The virus affects the guts or the heart and can also pass onto unborn pups in unvaccinated bitches.

It causes suppression of the immune system, so that an animal’s own ability to fight the infection is drastically reduced.

Signs to watch out for are reduced appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea that is often bloody and foul-smelling.

The virus is spread when dogs come into contact with faeces from an affected animal, but can be carried around on shoes, clothes, and is even in soil where unvaccinated dogs have been.

Treatment is very challenging. It requires intensive intravenous fluid therapy and round-the-clock specialist nursing care.

Anti-viral drugs are available and sometimes a plasma transfusion is needed to replace the vital white blood cells that the virus destroys.

We are fully equipped to deal with these cases and our dedicated nursing team put heart and soul into helping affected animals, but even successful outcomes are tinged with sadness when we think of the many days of suffering that could so easily have been prevented.

The virus in the environment can be killed but only by very specific disinfectants. Feel free to contact us for information on which disinfectants are effective.

Vaccination almost eliminates the risk of disease.

We give two injections as an initial course and then an annual booster every year.

When buying a puppy it is vital to ensure that both parents are vaccinated.

Puppies should have had at least one vaccination before they are nine weeks old.

At Robson & Prescott we feel passionately about disease prevention.

In light of the recent parvovirus outbreak, we are running a vaccine amnesty for any puppy or dog whose vaccinations are overdue.

We are offering a full course of two injections for the price of a single booster until the end of April. Vaccination appointments include a full health check with one of our dedicated small animal vets.

By Chris Green, director and senior vet