Farm dog owners in the central North Island are being urged to ensure their dogs are vaccinated against the highly infectious parvovirus.
The warning comes from the Ruapehu District Council after two dogs were found roaming tested positive for the disease.
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Compliance Team Leader Brenda Ralph said the canine parvovirus is generally fatal in untreated dogs which die from dehydration and overwhelming infections from the gut.
"The parvovirus symptoms start with a reluctance to eat, with a progression to fevers, marked lethargy, vomiting, and finally watery bloody diarrhoea," she said.
She said the virus was most severe in young dogs so it was essential that puppies were vaccinated and older dogs had booster shots at one year then every three years after that.
Ralph noted that parvovirus was a very hardy virus that could survive in the environment for six months to two years.
"It is passed in the dogs' droppings and can be transmitted to your dog from anyone or anything that comes into contact with the virus."
Treatment of infected dogs could be very expensive involving intensive care with days of hospitalisation and no guarantee of survival.
Unvaccinated dogs should be kept away at home on your property and away from public places with puppies only being safe to be in these public areas two weeks after they receive their final vaccination shot.
"If people see any dogs roaming please contact council so the appropriate action can be taken and help assist in reducing the spread of the virus. "
She said anyone wanting more information on vaccinating their animals should contact their vet.