Veterinarians in Sooke are warning dog owners to be vigilant amid an outbreak of parvovirus that has already killed at least eight pets.

Staff at Sooke Veterinary Hospital say they've seen 11 cases of parvo in the last month alone, a significant increase considering the clinic usually sees one or fewer cases per year.

Parvovirus affects dogs' gastrointestinal systems, causing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. It can also be fatal in young puppies.

The clinic said it's aware of eight deaths caused by the virus while two animals appear to have fully recovered and one remains ill.

Despite the high number of deaths, head veterinarian Dr. Deborah Lambert said the cases aren't widespread and only stem from two locations.

The concern is that the virus can easily spread by a dog being in contact with another dog's feces.

"The largest problem with Parvovirus is that it survives in the environment for years potentially, so direct contact with a dog is not required," Lambert told CTV News in an email.

Dogs of any age can get parvo, but it's especially dangerous for puppies, which can dehydrate quickly.

"Remember that puppies are not immune to parvovirus until at least one week after their second vaccination," said Lambert. "We recommend the pet mixes only with known vaccinated animals during that window (as it as a vital developmental stage for socialization) and avoids busy areas."

Any animals affected should be immediately taken to a vet and may require fluid support, antibiotics, anti-nausea medication and anti-diarrheals.

Otter Point Veterinary Hospital in Sooke confirmed it has also recently treated a dog for parvo.

"If your dog is regularly vaccinated and healthy, you really don't need to be all that worried," said veterinarian Clare Tompkins. "If you do have young pups, make sure that they are vaccinated, or if they're maybe too young to be vaccinated or not fully finished with their series yet, keep the contained in your own yard."