An outbreak of parvovirus has proved fatal for some Greymouth dogs.
Megan Hero, a veterinarian at West Coast Vets, says in the past two weeks unvaccinated dogs in the town had been hit hard by the deadly virus.
There have also been cases in Hokitika, Hero said, but the exposure had been greater in Greymouth.
"Currently we've had about eight cases confirmed, with another two to three suspected at the moment. Sadly, many of the cases have been so severe that they've needed to be euthanised to prevent further suffering,'' she said.
"Until very recently we've been fortunate not to see as much parvovirus on the Coast as other places in New Zealand. Unfortunately, an infection broke out among multiple young dogs recently, who in turn visited many other unvaccinated dogs.''
Parvovirus is extremely contagious, she said. It takes three to seven days from exposure to the virus before the dog seems obviously ill.
Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea, going off food and rapidly becoming tired and lethargic.
"The most disheartening association with the virus is often, but not always, those who haven't been able to afford vaccination in the first place and struggle to pay for basic veterinary medical bills, let alone pay for such an intensive treatment plan that this disease requires.
"So many owners are stuck between a rock and a hard place in the worst way, with their dog suffering in the meantime.''
Hero urged dog owners to vaccinate their animals.
"Vaccinate your pets, young and old, especially now more than ever.
"Do not let your puppies go outdoors or mix with other dogs until their pup vaccine schedule is finished. And if your young dog is beginning to vomit or have diarrhoea, call us ASAP."
- Greymouth Star