FEARS are growing that a deadly virus is threatening the lives of dogs.
Vets in Flintshire have reported seeing a huge increase in the number of dogs suffering with the highly contagious Parovirus, which can cause serious illness and death.
They have encouraged dog owners to ensure their pets are vaccinated against the illness, to prevent its further spread.
Tom Roberts, of Grange Veterinary Hospital, Mold, said: “I have personally seen four cases in the last month, and there are seven other vets in the practice.
“It is a massive increase and I have had one fatal with the other three surviving.
“The only reason two of them survived was because the owners had to pay £1,500 worth of treatment.”
He added: “The dog has to stay in hospital at least a week - we can't treat the virus - we have just got to support the dog through the infection.
"It is a huge concern and it is a hugely contagious disease.
“It can be picked up off other dogs or from in the environment.
"It is quit a significant problem, and a very contagious problem that can be easily avoided by vaccination."
Rowena Siddorn, a vet from Daleside Vetenary Group, Deeside, said they had seen a marked increase in the number of dogs with the virus over the past month.
She said: “We have had roughly three or four cases and I would say this is the first we have had for quite a long time.
“I would encourage people to phone their vet and get their dog vaccinated if they haven’t already.
“It’s very sad when animals come in and they are not surviving.”
Leaflets about how to spot the disease and what precautions to take were being handed out by trainers at Defur Dog Club in Queensferry.
Thomas Deva, 28, a trainer at the club, said: “It’s a virus which is highly contagious - It is like the plague for dogs.
“You need to look and see if your dog is lethargic or if their dog is off food. If they are passing blood as well you should contact the vet urgently.”
Advice about protecting dogs was was also given by Flintshire Council.
A spokesman said: “The disease can be passed from dog to dog and can be contracted by contaminated dog faecal matter.
“It is a dog owner’s responsibility to ensure their pet is vaccinated against it, in order to protect them when walking in public places.
“Those who have been vaccinated will be able to enjoy Flintshire’s many locations that are perfect for dog walkers.
“The vaccination is widely available - puppies require an initial double vaccination and then an annual booster.”