Protect your dog against lungworm

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It’s A Vet’s Life Vetsavers of St Thomas’ Road, Spalding

Some of you may have seen the adverts currently running on the TV about lungworm.

It is exactly how it sounds – a worm that lives in the lung that is potentially fatal.

The worm is transmitted by slugs and snails and now even frogs. If ingested it will live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of the dog.

Slugs and snails can be small and, as such, easily swallowed by mistake. A toy left out in the garden overnight can attract an infected snail or slug and be swallowed.

Some dogs will eat slugs and snails on purpose. Smaller slugs and snails can be swallowed unknowingly by the dog taking a drink from an outdoor water bowl or even rummaging in the gardens undergrowth.

We would always recommend that water bowls and toys etc are taken in at night and then placed back out in the daytime.

Lungworm is becoming a widespread problem and cases are now being seen by vets in Northern England and Scotland.

Experts suspect climate change is influencing snail and slug populations but whatever the factors behind the spread the danger is here and as such we must all be vigilant.

How a dog is infected

If an infected snail or slug or frog is ingested the adult worm will make its way into heart and pulmonary arteries.

The worm lays eggs which then hatch into larvae and pass into the airways of the lungs.

The larvae are then coughed up and swallowed, digested and passed out through the dog’s poo.

Snugs and snails then come along and ingest the infected poo and become a danger to the dog.

Symptoms

When lungworm gets inside a dog it can result in one or more different symptoms, some of these can be mistaken for other conditions and illnesses.

l Breathing Problems: Coughing and becoming tired quicker than normal.

l Excessive bleeding from small wounds: Nose bleeds, bleeding into the eye and anemia (the lungworm can effect the dog’s abilty to clot blood).

l Changes in the dog’s behaviour: Seizures (fits), spinal pain, weight loss, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea.

If you suspect that your dog may be infected then we would recommend you to contact your vet as an early diagnosis and treatment could give your pet the best chance for a full recovery.

Lungworm can be prevented with a simple four-weekly Advocate treatment that is applied to the dog’s skin.