What is Lungworm?
You may have noticed a number of reports in the press recently about the potentially life threatening parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum. Unlike intestinal worms, once inside the dog’s system, this parasite travels through the body eventually ending up in the heart. If the infection is left untreated, the dog’s health can rapidly deteriorate, often resulting in death.
The parasite is carried by slugs and snails, and the problem arises when dogs purposefully or accidentally eat these common garden visitors when they are rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass or drinking from outdoor water bowls.
The latest research conducted by the Royal Veterinary College suggests that the parasite is spreading beyond the areas that it has previously been seen in the UK, and cases have now been confirmed in northern England and Scotland.
It is thought that the spread of this parasite is due to a number of factors such as:
- The increase in fox numbers over the last 40 years (foxes are carriers of this parasite)
- Warmer, wetter winters see slugs and snails living longer and sometimes not dying off at all
- The increased movement of dogs in and out of areas of infection
This worm is not treated through the conventional use of worming tablets. However, treatment and prevention for lungworm, as well as more commonly found parasites such as fleas and intestinal worms, is available in the form of a prescription spot-on which is available following a clinical assessment at our practice.
Watch a video explaining the lifecycle of the lungworm
Lungworm infection – what to look out for.
Any dog can potentially become infected with Angiostrongylus vasorum if they happen to eat a slug or snail carrying the larvae of the parasite. Symptoms are many and varied but can include 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 so if you are concerned about your dog’s health, you should seek veterinary advice immediately.
If you would like further advice on this parasite, as well as information on how to protect your pet and family from the risks posed by fleas, worms, mites and lice, please give us a call to make an appointment.
Veterinary team at Powis and Partners