You may have heard recently in the news that Calgary Humane Society had to close its doors for a  period of time due to an outbreak of Canine Parvovirus or “Parvo” for short. Now you may be wondering what is this “parvo” and why is it such a big deal to have caused a closure of a humane society?

Canine parvovirus is a dangerous and extraordinarily contagious virus that spreads easily between unvaccinated dogs. If not caught early and treated aggressively parvovirus infection can be lethal. Parvo  is a virus that can cause severe inflammation of the intestines in canines. The virus infects cells of the intestine leading to structural changes that prevent dogs from properly absorbing nutrients.


What are the symptoms of Parvo?

Severe vomiting and diarrhea (often bloody) and lack of appetite are common symptoms of canine parvovirus infection. Affected dogs usually develop signs of extreme lethargy (lack of energy), depression and dehydration with fever. Leukopenia (low white blood cells) can often be seen on blood work. In severe cases death can occur rapidly. Symptoms of canine parvovirus will typically develop after an incubation period of 3-10 days in infected dogs. Dog with suspected canine parvovirus exposure should be carefully monitored for symptoms.


Is my dog in danger of Parvovirus?

The long and the short of it, yes. All dogs even vaccinated dogs can run the risk of being infected with the Parvovirus. However the higher risk group of dogs are the unvaccinated, the immune compromised and the young.  Puppies who have not completed their full vaccine series and are newly vaccinated (vaccinated less than 10-14 days prior to exposure) may still be at risk of infection.


So you may still be asking why did they close the shelter down?

As an organization SPCA’s and Humane Societies take in the most vulnerable animals, often with no information on their history or previous care. They closed the shelter in order to best protect the public and their animals.This closure was mainly a precautionary measure as SPCA’s and Humane Societies take the health of their animals and the health of the public very seriously.


Here at Swift Current SPCA there is always a risk of having this happen, but we do our best to minimize this risk by daily deep cleaning, as well as minimizing contact between dogs, as well as humans and unvaccinated dogs. As much as we would love to let you cuddle our litter of puppies we have here, humans can act as something called a “fomite” meaning they can bring the virus in on their clothes or shoes. Even if your dogs are vaccinated at home we can’t take the risk of it being picked up on your shoes outside before coming into the shelter. So please know we want you to cuddle them as much as you want to cuddle them, but for their best interest any cuddling will have to  be done with your eyes!



Melissa Topham RVT

Operations Manager