Pet owners should ensure their dogs’ vaccinations are up-to-date, with the number of parvovrius cases on the rise across the country.

“Many pets’ lives are unnecessarily put at risk because they haven’t had the vaccinations they need to protect them from parvovirus,” said Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) spokesperson Dr David Neck.

According to Disease Watchdog vets across Australia have recorded more than 300 cases of parvovirus over the last couple of months, a disease that is extremely contagious and often lethal – around 80 per cent of untreated cases end in death.

Dr Neck said that young puppies and dogs that have never been vaccinated are particularly susceptible to the effects of the virus. “There’s a simple solution to preventing dogs from contracting the disease,” says Dr Neck. “All puppies from six weeks of age should be vaccinated against parvovirus and other canine diseases. Follow up vaccinations are required and your vet can advise on what’s best in your area.”

The contagious nature of the virus means that spread can happen easily even if unvaccinated dogs are kept isolated from other animals.

“Parvovirus is highly contagious and is spread by oral or nasal contact with contaminated faeces, a contaminated environment or contaminated objects,” says Dr Neck. “It’s extremely resistant to the environment and can survive on objects like clothing, shoes and the floor for five months or longer,” he said.

Hot spot areas include Darwin, NT (21 cases); Chinchilla, QLD (13) and Tamworth, NSW (50).

“If your dog is unvaccinated and shows signs of lethargy, vomiting or diarrhoea, seek veterinary attention immediately,” Dr Neck says. “Early treatment is essential in improving the chance of survival.”