A spate of parvovirus cases across two Tauranga suburbs has sparked a grieving dog owner to warn others of the dangers of the fatal disease.
Bethlehem resident Hope Forrest's two chihuahua puppies became infected with the virus, known as parvo, late last week.
Parvo can strike dogs of all ages and breeds, but puppies are particularly susceptible.
Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Puppies Diva and Theo were Christmas presents for Miss Forest's two children and were just four-and-a-half months old when parvo struck.
"I think Diva had it initially then, because they feed together, Theo got it too. It all happened in the space of 36 hours from the initial diarrhoea on Thursday until she died on Saturday. At first I thought she had a gastro thing that has been going around, then when she appeared lethargic I thought she was just getting over the stomach bug. On Friday she was bleeding and vomiting, on Saturday she was dead."
Theo was also taken to the vet and was released on Monday afternoon, although he was not fully recovered.
Miss Forrest suspected the puppies picked up the virus during walks at a nearby park.
"We took them for walks to fraternise with other dogs around the Bethlehem park area. I'm thinking people without vaccinated dogs have come over from Brookfield as they had an influx. I took my dogs to Bethlehem as we have just shifted there, before that I used to take them to Ferguson Park or to the beach."
Miss Forrest's vet, Dr Nick Sygrove from Vetcare Tauranga, said he had treated about four cases of parvo in the last couple of weeks and other vets had mentioned seeing more cases than usual around the Bethlehem and Brookfield areas.
He said Miss Forrest's puppies had been partially vaccinated but had not finished their full course of shots when the disease struck.
"It's really important that animals are given their full courses. Parvo seems to rear its head every couple of years, then we don't see it for a while after everyone gets on top of all their shots."
Dr Sygrove said the dogs seemed to pick the virus up from around the Bethlehem boardwalk area. Anyone who suspected their dog may have contracted parvo should get them to a vet, he said.
"Most of them we can treat very well," he said.
Other Tauranga vets spoken to hadn't heard of parvo spreading to their areas, although a number mentioned they had heard about cases in Bethlehem and Brookfield.