Warning to Bristol dog owners after six-month-old puppy dies from parvovirus

  • Watch Annie Knowlson's report

A woman in Bristol is warning dog owners about a disease that has killed a number of pets including her own.

Parvovirus attacks the gut and bone marrow and can leave some dogs unable to clear infections.

Millie Tomkins says it became clear something was wrong with her six month old puppy Milo.

She said: "He'd start vomiting then he'd stop. So we thought maybe he'd eaten something as he was always chewing everything.

"On the Tuesday I took him to the vet and they said there's been a few outbreaks of parvovirus in the area, can you wait outside because of his symptoms.

"Then we had a phone call at 6pm that night and two snap tests confirmed he had parvovirus and unfortunately there was no cure."

Millie says she considered remortgaging her home to pay for Milo's vet bills, but he died.

What is parvovirus?

Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that can be fatal. It attacks cells in the gut and in the bone marrow and leaves some dogs so severely affected they have no white blood cells to fight off infections.

Symptoms can include:

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite

  • Abdominal pain and bloating

  • Fever or low body temperature

  • Vomiting and severe, often bloody, diarrhoea

Credit: Millie Tomkins

Millie says losing Milo was devastating for her and her family.

She told ITV News: "They didn't understand there was nothing that could be done and being the school holidays they were home and they saw him be sick and they had to come with me to have him put to sleep and it was just really difficult so we thought we'd take everyone away for a few days and cheer Maggie (Milo's mother) up because she just kept looking for her son.

"She had ripped all her hair out her back and then when she vomited we thought she'd caught parvovirus so we thought 'great this is another one we're going to lose' but luckily it was just stress so she didn't actually catch the virus."

Milo is one of multiple dogs in Bristol that have been struck down with the virus, with experts trying to raise awareness amongst owners.

Vet Paul Higgs explained: "For those dogs that present to somewhere like us as a specialist hospital - they're usually coming here because they're at their most sick."

"Unfortunately we have quite a high percentage of cases that don't make it through.

"But in general those dogs that present with parvovirus if we can get them through the first few days they will survive but it is pretty intensive treatment."

Paul says immunisation is key - and wants dog owners to know there is a third vaccine dose puppies can have at 16 weeks that could provide a better level of protection.

He said: "We can protect against it so when you've got a young puppy ensure you're not taking them into a high risk area which would be a public area where there could be lots of dog faeces for example.

"So although it's important to socialise your puppy it's really important to ensure we've got that protective environment in place as well, especially until that vaccination course is complete."