Yorkshire dog owners warned over canine parvovirus outbreak

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A Leeds family's dog has contracted the dangerous canine disease parvovirus - which kills half of infected dogs.

Andrew and Jenny Tompkins believe their German shepherd puppy Dude became ill after a walk in the woods at Bramley Fall Park earlier this week.

On Monday morning Jenny, from Bramley, noticed that Dude appeared listless and would not eat or drink. His symptoms worsened and the couple took him to the PDSA vet centre on York Road, where he was diagnosed with parvovirus.

The disease has a high mortality rate if not caught early, and Dude has been given antibiotics and intravenous fluids.

"I noticed that Dude wasn't his normal self. He's a very boisterous, playful puppy and he normally jumps all over me the second I get up. On Tuesday morning he didn't even come to say hello. We tried to encourage play but he just wanted to rest. As the day went on we noticed he wasn't touching his food and hadn't touched his water bowl. At 6pm we took him for his evening walk. When he got home his symptoms worsened. He was drooling at the mouth, had bloodshot eyes and diarrhoea that had the most offensive smell," said Jenny.

"We rushed him straight to the vets. The vets discovered he had blood in his stools and made the diagnosis of the parvoviris. He was administered several drugs, discharged and we were told to bring him back. My husband took him back in the next day around lunchtime. He was admitted into the surgery for IV fluids as he was very dehydrated and had a low temperature. Again he was discharged in the evening to have a peaceful night at home but is being re-admitted on Tuesday morning at 8:30am for another day of treatment."

The much-loved family pet was then transferred to the PDSA centre in Bradford for an overnight stay and further treatment - and vets have told Jenny that they have seen other cases of the disease in the local area.

Dude is usually walked in Bramley Fall Park and at Otley Chevin.

"His X-ray and CT scan came back clear but he is still very poorly with little improvement in his condition. The vets want him to have IV fluids overnight as well as some more antibiotics. Leaving him there alone without his family has completely broken me and the kids," added Jenny.

In March 2017, three dogs died at the same vet practice in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, after being diagnosed with parvovirus, which is contagious. Julian Norton, who stars in documentary series The Yorkshire Vet, advised owners to be vigilant and to look for symptoms such as bloody diarrhoea, loss of appetite, lethargy and drooling.

The infection is preventable and a vaccine is available, but is fatal in around half of dogs who have not been immunised. The disease is not common but can take hold quickly, leaving treatment futile. It first arrived in the UK in the 1970s and vaccinations are available for puppies as well as an annual booster for adult dogs.

Mr Norton said that some pets do respond to treatment, although once infected the chances of survival are only around 50 per cent. He added that the situation in Thirsk during the two-week outbreak was 'scary'.