VETS across East Lancashire have been warning people to get their dogs vaccinated after a puppy died of the deadly parvovirus.

An eight-week old bulldog caught the highly-contagious canine disease following an outbreak in the Rochdale area.

The puppy, which was too young to be vaccinated against the killer disease had to be put to sleep at the Myerscough Veterinary Group in Padiham.

Fears have now grown that the virus may have spread after several cases of the fatal condition were alerted in East Lancashire before Christmas.

Vets are warning dog owners of the dangers of not getting their dogs vaccinated.

Sue Holroyd, practice manager at Abbeydale Vets, which has branches in Blackburn, Whalley and Darwen, said: “The area around Blackburn and Darwen is classed as a high risk area for the parvovirus. The disease has never gone away since it first became a problem in the 1970s.

“The virus is very virulent and is very difficult to come back from once an animal has contracted it, with a very high percentage of the animals dying from it, even with treatment.

“It is a lot more expensive to have to treat it than it is to prevent it.”

The virus is highly contagious and can be present in house for weeks. It can spread from dog to dog or can be contracted from areas and public spaces where infected dogs have been. It cannot be contracted by people.

It can cost around £1,000 and £1,500 to get it treated but many dogs die regardless.

Initial vaccination costs from £50 and annual boosters to protect from the virus cost around £35.

Robin Hargreaves, director of Stanley House Veterinary Group in Colne and president of the British Veterinary Association, said: “The parvovirus is a dreadful disease, especially in young dogs which have less immunity.

“Treatment is very costly as the drugs used are expensive and the care the dogs need is intensive. The suffering the dogs have to go through even with treatment is horrific and those that are treated may still die.”