BE LUNGWORM AWARE!Mar 29, 2011
Pet Doctors Supports the 2012 Be Lungworm Aware Campaign.
Pet Doctors is warning dog owners of an increase in the diagnosis of a potentially fatal disease caused by infection with the lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum. Dogs become infected with this lungworm through eating slugs and snails which can carry the larvae of the parasite. While some dogs will eat slugs and snails on purpose, the hidden danger arises from small slugs and snails which can be accidentally swallowed when dogs are playing with toys left out in the garden, or rummaging through the undergrowth.
Once seen as a problem in isolated areas, this lungworm has spread in the UK. Although dogs can become infected with Angiostrongylus vasorum at any time of year, the warm and damp conditions associated with the spring and autumn months provide ideal breeding conditions for slugs and snails, potentially increasing the risk of infection. While dog owners are becoming more aware of the parasite, there is still a lack of understanding as to what warning signs to look out for that can indicate a dog may have picked up this lungworm.
Dogs which have picked up a lungworm infection can show a number of different symptoms. This lungworm often gives rise to breathing difficulties, ranging from a lack of energy to coughing. Dogs may also show general signs of being unwell including weight loss, reduced appetite and vomiting. Persistent bleeding, even from minor cuts is also a sign to watch out for. However, the symptoms can be varied and some dogs may appear healthy in the early stages of infection, so if owners are concerned about their dog’s health, they should contact their veterinary practice for further advice.
Conventional use of worming tablets is not effective against this parasite. A specific spot-on treatment has been available to veterinary surgeons for a number of years to treat the disease. A recent advance means that this treatment has also now been shown to prevent dogs developing a lungworm infection when used regularly. Any owner who is concerned that their dog is at risk of this condition, or is worried their dog may have already picked up the parasite should talk to their local veterinary practice for further information.