EAST Lancashire pet owners are being warned by a top vet to vaccinate their dogs against a deadly virus that has been detected. Three dogs from Colne, including two puppies and an adult female, are being treated for parvovirus, an aggressive and highly contagious canine disease spread by faeces and other bodily fluids.

Two dogs from Burnley were also diagnosed with the virus last week after suffering symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.

In March 2012, 12 dogs from Oswaldtwistle, Accrington and Burnley died after contracting the disease.

Practitioners at Stanley House Vets, Colne said on average they see 10 cases of parvovirus a year, and that receiving three in a matter of days is a ‘higher than normal number’.

Robin Hargreaves, president of the British Veterinary Association, and director at Stanley House Vets, with branches in Burnley, Colne and Barnoldswick, said: “The virus is more common in puppies, but adult dogs who are due to be vaccinated against it again soon are also at risk.

“The adult dog who is being treated in Colne was due to have a vaccination.

“What I would say to people is that they should be vigilant.

“People sometimes don’t get their dog vaccinated because they don’t have the money, but if their dog gets parvovirus, then antibiotics won’t work against it.

“We do have drug treatments, but they are 20 times more expensive than the vaccination, and there is no guarantee that the dog will live.

“Vaccinations aren’t a money-making racket.

“With parvovirus, it is highly contagious, and when you get your dog vaccinated, you are not only protecting your dog, but doing a public service, because your dog is less likely to spread the disease.”

Veterinary surgeon Catherine Rowley-Neale, from Springfield Vets, Redlam, Blackburn, said the best way for owners to restrict the spread of the virus was to buy puppies from a reputable breeder.

She said: “The virus results from overcrowding and non-vaccination, basically poor conditions that young dogs are kept in.

“I would advise people to be very careful when selecting a puppy. Not just feeling sorry for them.”