It’s 10.30pm and as I’m sitting on the sofa contemplating whether it’s late enough to warrant turning in for the night, the Two By Two Veterinary Centre on-call phone (affectionately known as the ticking time bomb) starts to chime in my pocket.A pet owner of several dogs local to Finchley has called in a frantic worry over her young puppy who has not yet received a vaccination course. The puppy in question suddenly went very quiet and unresponsive with some sickness and foul diarrhoea just starting prior to the phone call. Time for action as I open up the Finchley practice for an out-of-hours emergency vet consultation and assessment. This is what I signed up for in 2009 when I took my oath in front of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Rendering assistance to animals in pain or distress is what makes me tick.
Now I’d genuinely love to say this story had a happy ending (and sometimes they really do and treatment pulls the sick animal from the brink) but the reality is that the puppy in question sadly passed away after only three hours of intensive treatment. That was no more than five hours from it first showing signs of something not quite being right. Other in-contact dogs were reported to have developed similar signs resulting in multiple, rapid fatalities which points to Canine Parvovirus as the most likely cause in this case.
Canine Parvovirus is a disease that is ubiquitous in the environment with an extremely high mortality rate. What this means is that it is present in the parks, on the streets, pavements, water courses and fields throughout the UK wherever dogs roam so there is no way of avoiding contact. If your dog is not vaccinated and gets exposed to the virus, there is a reasonable chance of fatality at any age, even when appropriate veterinary treatment is sought and received in a timely manner. Immunity against Canine Parvovirus is part of a core vaccination regime from any veterinary surgeon and the protection afforded by vaccinating is virtually one hundred percent. It’s inexpensive and proven to be safe with very few vaccine reactions reported in the UK each year compared to the number of doses administered.
I’m a passionate believer in preventative medicine and urge anyone with unvaccinated dogs, cats, rabbits or ferrets to contact a veterinary surgeon for professional, personalised advice on vaccination for your much-loved pet and companion.
Andrew Monchar, Director, Two By Two Veterinary Centre