Coronavirus pandemic prompts spike in 'parvo pups,' experts say

New research suggests the pandemic is negatively impacting the health of our furry friends, but the problem isn't coronavirus infections. Animal experts are seeing a rise in parvovirus cases.

The highly contagious, sometimes deadly disease attacks the gastrointestinal tracts of any unvaccinated or partially vaccinated dog, most commonly infecting puppies.

Bella, a tail-wagging pup, is now back home with her family thanks to life-saving treatment diverting the fast-acting virus.

Blue Pearl Pet Hospital's more than 90 locations recorded a 70 percent increase in emergency visits for parvovirus in 2020.

Why? Analysts with Blue Pearl suspect the coronavirus pandemic is playing an unfortunate role:

  • Limiting appointments at pet hospitals
  • Disrupting the timing of dogs receiving their full vaccine series
  • Boosting the adoption of rescue dogs, which is a good thing, but not all of those pups are heading home with their proper shots
  • Increasing time outside and therefore potential exposure
  • Tightening pet owners' budgets in the wake of massive layoffs

Veterinarians fear the rising number of COVID-19 cases could exacerbate this trend.

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James Barr, Chief Medical Officer at Blue Pearl, said in a statement, “Parvo outbreaks pose a serious threat to our canine friends but skipping routine vaccinations could also put human health at risk through the possibility of rabies exposure."

If left untreated, parvo pups will frequently die within two to three days, but there is a high survival rate with quick intervention.

Dogs are often contagious before showing symptoms of parvovirus.