Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Deadly virus infects 6 dogs in downtown Vancouver, SPCA warns

At least six dogs in the downtown Vancouver area have been infected with a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus called 'parvovirus.'

At least six dogs in the downtown Vancouver area have been infected with a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus called 'parvovirus.'

Now, the BC SPCA is warning Vancouver-area dog owners to ensure that their pets are vaccinated against the viral disease. Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal system of dogs and can also damage the heart muscle; it is transmittable through contact with an infected dog’s feces and can live in an environment for several months or longer.

Puppies and non-vaccinated adult dogs are highly susceptible to the illness.


“Parvovirus causes vomiting, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhea and lethargy,” says Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA. “A dog with parvovirus may also have difficulty absorbing nutrients, increasing the risk for dehydration and malnutrition. Even with treatment, dogs can develop sepsis and die.”

Puppies, who are particularly vulnerable, should should receive vaccines on a schedule determined by a veterinarian. Typically, these start at six to eight weeks of age, with follow-up boosters at four-week intervals until 16 to 20 weeks old and another booster at one year. In addition, adult dogs who did not have a full set of parvo vaccinations should receive at least one shot.

“We are concerned that the six dogs, most of which did not survive, may have exposed other dogs in the community,” says Dr. Gordon. “We urge any guardians of unvaccinated puppies or dogs to see their veterinarian and to seek immediate help if their pets show symptoms of the disease.”

Unfortunately, this virus is resistant to many disinfectants, so it lingers on surfaces for several months. Dogs typically pick up the virus by coming into contact with feces from an infected animal.

In order to support the human-animal bond in vulnerable families, the BC SPCA offers free vaccines and basic preventive care the last Thursday of every month to pets of homeless guardians or those living in SROs in the Downtown Eastside. The next clinic is Thursday, June 27th from 10 a.m. to noon at Oppenheimer Park. Guardians can sign up by emailing