Eating Grass and Lungworm
Q. I’ve heard that my dog could get lungworm from eating grass. Is this true?
A. Your dog could certainly be at risk if a slug or snail has passed over the grass. Lungworm infection in dogs, caused by the parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum, is spreading. A recent nationwide survey of UK vets has revealed that over 25 per cent of those questioned had either confirmed or suspected a case of this potentially fatal condition, yet as few as six per cent of dog owners had even heard of the disease.
Dogs become infected with the lungworm through eating slugs and snails which carry the larvae of the parasite. Infections were most common in parts of Ireland, Wales and southern England. However, recent outbreaks as far north as Scotland mean the parasite is now a nationwide threat.
Lungworm is a particularly dangerous condition as if left untreated, it is often fatal. Signs to look out for include coughing, reluctance to exercise, depression, weight loss, fits, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, paralysis and persistent bleeding from even small cuts. Dogs known to eat slugs and snails should also be considered candidates for a check up with a vet, even if they are showing no outward signs of infection.