THE parvovirus which has struck several dogs across East Lancashire is a terrible disease.

Pets who contract the highly contagious infection experience loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, lethargy and fever.

Sadly in around 40 per cent of cases the disease proves fatal, with puppies and younger animals being most at risk.

Even for those who can be saved, the treatment, which usually requires a stay in an animal hospital, usually costs in excess of £1,000.

There are steps however that owners can take to protect their pets.

Since the disease was discovered in the 1970s a vaccination has been developed to help halt its spread.

For the price of just a few pounds you can protect your pet’s health.

Vets also suggest that puppies, who have to be over six-weeks-old for their first parvovirus injection, should only be bought from a reputable breeder.

One Blackburn vet has even gone as far as saying when selecting a puppy don’t take one because it pulls on the heartstrings as animals who appear weaker could be infected.

In this way you can save yourself the anguish of losing a much loved pet or seeing it suffer as it battles for life.