An unusually high wave of the deadly and highly contagious canine parvovirus is doing the rounds in the community.
Normally Wingham and Valley Vets director Allisa Healy says the NSW mid north coast practice would see maybe a couple of cases in "six months to a year".
In the past week, they have seen six cases of the virus.
And what is even more unusual about the outbreak is that many of the dogs being treated are not the usual age group, that is, puppies.
The practice is seeing middle aged and older dogs, some of whom were vaccinated as puppies, but haven't been kept up to date with booster shots. They are also seeing dogs that haven't been vaccinated because the owners don't think they need to be, as they aren't taken out in public.
But here's the thing - your dog doesn't need to go out to catch the virus, you might be bringing it home to them.
You might be bringing the virus home
Parvovirus is a DNA virus, and can live on surfaces for up to seven years in the right conditions.
"Meaning you can get it on something, take it home, your dog licks the virion particles, and subsequently can develop parvo if they're not (fully) vaccinated," Dr Healy said.
"So, I guess if there's enough viral load out there for the owners to be bringing it home on their shoes, presumably, then that's a concern for us."
"Parvovirus is the dog version of ebola," Wingham and Valley Vets director Dr Alissa Healy says.
It's a disgusting, horrible and extremely painful death for dogs.
"They have foul smelling hemorrhagic diarrhoea that is just profuse, we're talking it's like bloody water coming out of them, for sometimes a week or two. It's not a nice death at all. And there's a lot of abdominal pain that comes along with it," Dr Healy says.
It can also cause vomiting.
Is parvovirus treatable?
Parvovirus is treatable, but there is no guarantee a dog will survive. The disease itself cannot be treated, but the symptoms can.
"Essentially, we manage the dehydration and fluid deficits with intensive IV fluid therapy, and also anti nausea drugs," Dr Healy says.
However, it could mean up to two weeks in hospital, and cost thousands of dollars. It's an intensive care situation, with the dog being in quarantine and veterinary staff needing to gown up and wear booties when they enter the room.
Vaccination the cheaper option by far
Therefore it is a much cheaper option to simply make sure dogs have their booster shots.
Wingham and Valley Vets use a triennial vaccine, meaning it is given once every three years, while some vets use an annual vaccine.
"There's a reasonable cost involved with treating parvovirus, so for the cost of a vaccine, which is under $100 for an annual vaccine, it can save a lot of heartache and a lot of a lot of suffering for a (dog)," Dr Healy says.
If your dog is fully up to date with its vaccinations and boosters, there is virtually no chance your dog will contract parvovirus.
Learn more about parvovirus here.