It has been confirmed by a local veterinarian that a dog with Parvo was at the Traverse City Dog Park on Wednesday, June 26th. Parvo (Canine Parvovirus) is a highly contagious disease of dogs that has a tendency to attack very quickly. The virus is shed in large amounts of stools of infected dogs for up to several weeks following infection. According to Web MD, the disease is transmitted by oral contact with infected feces. Parvo can be carried on the dog’s hair and feet, as well as on contaminated crates, shoes and other objects. When the dog licks the fecal material off hair, feet or anything that came in contact with infected feces, he or she acquires the disease. You can read more about Parvo here.
Parvo affects dogs of all ages, but most cases it occurs in puppies from six to 20 weeks old. Symptoms include lethargy, no appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. The typical incubation period is three to seven days between initial infection and the onset of the first symptoms. Some dogs have a high fever. If you suspect your dog may be sick with Parvo, please see your veterinarian immediately. Humans cannot contract the virus.
The virus is very hardy and resistant to nearly every household cleaning product. Despite its resistance to most cleaning agents, Parvo can be eliminated by bleach – one part bleach mixed with approximately 30 parts water for any indoor area. Because it’s difficult to bleach an outside area, thoroughly watering down an area will at least dilute any present virus.
Because the Parvo virus can live on the ground for at least six months to a year (even through the winter), having a diseased dog at a public dog park is a big deal.
Although the Traverse City Dog Park has guidelines, it is a self-regulated park that does not require dogs to be vaccinated or for pet owners to prove their dogs are healthy before bringing them into the park. The website states that dogs need to be up to date on their vaccinations. However, it also states that users of the park enter at their own and their dog’s risk of enjoyment and injury.
Vaccinated adult dogs are at low risk of getting the disease but pups who have not reached maturity or completed their vaccinations, dogs with compromised immune systems or any dogs with an unknown vaccination history shouldn’t visit the park. As the rules at the dog park state, you are entering at your own risk and that of your dog. Once again, if you have any questions at all about the safety of taking your dog to a public dog park that has had a Parvo dog present, please contact your veterinarian.
UPDATE: Pet Friends Magazine was contacted by the Traverse City Parks & Recreation Department. As a precaution, they closed the dog park for the day on Monday, July 1st and irrigated the entire park to dilute the possible exposure for other dogs. They will re-open sometime tomorrow morning, on Tuesday, July 2nd.