Vet Resources

View the frequently asked questions that our Vet Team hears from pet owners across the region

Frequently Asked Pet Questions

What is Parvovirus?

Canine Parvovirus is a serious disease that can kill pups and young dogs anywhere in Australia, including remote communities. This disease is found where there are a lot of pups. This virus often kills the whole litter. The virus breeds in the gut causing the lining to come away and bleed a lot. Puppies with parvovirus will look very sad and sick, they won’t eat, and may have vomiting and smelly/bloody guna (diarrhoea), it is very painful.

 Pups often die from dehydration after 2 or 3 days.

This disease brings suffering and sadness for dogs and their owners.

Parvovirus can hang around in communities for a long time, remaining in your house and yard, wherever infected dogs have been. The virus can be moved around communities on shoes, car tyres, clothing, or animal hair. That means that when a new puppy arrives, or the next litter of pups are weaned, they may also get sick and die. Puppies are protected by their mother’s immunity until it runs out somewhere between 6 weeks to 4 months of age. During that time, they can easily catch Parvovirus. Pup’s immune systems are still developing, so it is harder for them to fight the disease.

Sadly, the chances of a pup recovering from Parvovirus are very low. It is much better to prevent the pup from getting Parvovirus, than to try to cure this sickness.

How can you prevent Parvovirus?

Vaccination is the way to save your pup from Parvovirus. Giving a vaccination helps the pups body recognise the virus and be able to fight it. Pups need a a series of vaccinations at 6 weeks, 10 and 14 weeks of age. The puppy is only fully protected once it has had all its injections. During this time, it is better to keep your pup at home and away from unvaccinated dogs.

The vet can give the pup a vaccine when they are visiting your community, or you can get your pup’s vaccination at some of our Roper Gulf Offices. If you desex your pup when the vet team is visiting, we will give them a free parvovirus vaccination at the same time.

The vaccine won’t help pups and dogs who are already sick or have a very high temperature.

You can find out more about Parvovirus in Kriol language here.

You can find out more about caring for your puppy in Kriol language here.

What is Ehrlichiosis (Tick Disease)?

Ehrlichia canis is a bacteria or germ carried by Brown Dog Ticks. Although ticks have been around in the top end for a long time, the Ehrlichia canis bacteria was only detected for the first time in WA in 2020. It has now spread across the Northern Territory.

Ehrlichiosis can make dogs seriously ill or kill them. When ticks attach to the dog to feed on blood, the bacteria can get into the bloodstream.

Early signs include:

Being sleepy (lethargy), not wanting to eat, losing weight and unusual bleeding or nosebleeds (AMRRIC 2022). This can last 2-4 weeks and without treatment, the dog may die.

You can find out more about tick disease here

When and why should I get my female dog desexed?

Generally, vets recommend desexing at around 5-6 months.

Sometimes we can desex them earlier depending on the dog’s size and maturity. Desexing female dogs prevents some of the infections and cancers that can happen in undesexed animals.

A lot of people want their girl dog to have a litter of puppies before she is desexed. There is no good medical or behavioural reason to do this.

If you want your dog to have puppies, it is a good idea to ask yourself:

  1. Will I be able to find good homes for the puppies?
  2. Do I have transport available to get to a vet hospital if mother dog has trouble giving birth?
  3. Can I afford an emergency operation for mother dog if something goes wrong?
  4.  Will I be able to provide the extra food needed for a hungry mother dog and growing puppies?
  5. Do I have the time and money to buy formula and hand raise puppies if mother dog gets sick or dies?
  6. Can I afford vaccinations to protect all the puppies that are born?

We all love puppies, but it is very worrying and sad for families when puppies get sick and die.

When and why should I get my male dog desexed?

Generally, vets recommend desexing at around 5-6 months.

Sometimes we can desex them earlier depending on the dog’s size and maturity. Desexing male dogs prevents some of the infections and cancers that can happen in undesexed animals.

Undesexed boy dogs can create a lot of problems in communities. At around 9 months, undesexed boy dogs will start to stretch their territory beyond their own yard and roam around looking for girl dogs. This puts them at much greater risk of or being run over as they roam, or being killed or seriously injured in fights. Smaller or older dogs often come away the losers in a dog fight.

Undesexed male dogs are more likely to be cheeky and aggressive, this can get out of control. This aggression can cause a lot of damage to other animals and to people. They can form packs that patrol the community.

 When a male dog is out and about, he is not at home doing his job of guarding his family.

Why are cheeky dogs dangerous?

Dog bites are a more likely risk where there are large numbers of free ranging dogs. Community people often choose robust types of dogs for guarding or hunting. These dogs are capable of doing a lot of damage if they get out of hand. Dog bites can be very serious and result in hospitalisation. In some cases in communities, children and adults have been attacked and killed by dogs. Elderly people can also be knocked down by dogs and injured.

Desexing your male dog can help to reduce that aggression.

i AMRRIC “Ehrlichiosis FAQ.” Accessed February 17, 2022. Ehrlichiosis FAQ - AMRRIC