Dog owners have been warned to act against a deadly animal virus after a puppy died in Padiham.
The eight-week old Bulldog caught the highly-contagious canine parvovirus following an outbreak in the Rochdale area.
The tiny pup was too young to be vaccinated against the killer disease and sadly had to be put to sleep at the Myerscough Veterinary Group in the town.
Fears are the virus may have spread to Padiham and Burnley after several cases of the fatal condition were alerted in East Lancashire in the run-up to Christmas.
Now vets are pleading with dog owners to get their pets vaccinated against the disease which can cause death in around 90% of untreated dogs.
Vicki Jenkinson, of Myerscough Veterinary Surgery in Padiham, said: “It is a very nasty and contagious disease.
“It is very fast acting and the dogs can go downhill very quickly. The symptoms can be explosive diarrhoea with blood in it which has a very distinctive smell. The dogs can be lethargic, vomiting and not eat or drink.
“The only way to stop it is to get your dog vaccinated.”
The virus is highly contagious and can spread from dog to dog or can be contracted from areas and public spaces where infected dogs have been.
It can cost anywhere between £1,000 and £1,500 to get it treated but many dogs can die regardless.
But the initial vaccination costs as little as £50 and annual boosters to protect from the virus cost around £35.
Ms Jenkinson stressed the importance of immunising unvaccinated dogs, especially at Christmas – a time when many families buy new puppies.
She said: “If you have bonded with a new puppy then the week after it got parvovirus it would be heart-breaking – especially if you have children.
“That is why it is so important to get the dog vaccinated and make sure the jabs are up-to-date.”
She added: “The disease can spread very easily so keep an eye on your dog and look out for the symptoms.”
A dedicated parvovirus Facebook and Twitter page has been set up to alert dog owners to outbreaks of parvovirus in the UK.