VET’S VIEW: Beware dangers of lungworm

HAVE you noticed how many slugs and snails are around at the moment?

But, more importantly, are you aware they carry the lungworm parasite, which can fatally infect your dog if swallowed?

Dogs will ingest slugs and snails when eating grass, playing with toys outside, drinking from outdoor water bowls and puddles, or rummaging through undergrowth.

Once infected, adult lungworms live in the dog’s heart and major blood vessels supplying the lungs, potentially causing a range of serious problems.

Two main issues caused by dogs becoming infected with lungworm are health problems and spreading the parasite back into the environment, with larvae expelled in faeces infecting other dogs.

Signs of lungworm can easily be confused with other illnesses, and include trouble breathing, coughing, tiring easily, poor blood clotting, general sickness, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Even changes in behaviour, such as depression, tiring easily, and seizures (fits) can indicate infection.

Some dogs never show initial outward signs but please contact your vet ASAP if concerned so they can perform tests helping to detect the parasite. Dogs of all ages and breeds are susceptible with curious puppies unsurprisingly more prone to picking up the parasite.

Dogs known to eat slugs and snails are high risk.

Lungworm doesn’t infect humans, however, dogs and cats can carry roundworms which can be passed on to people, so please ensure your pet’s parasite protection is kept up to date.

Cats can become infected with a different lungworm; however infections are rare with outcomes less severe as in dogs.

Lungworm prevention and treatment is widely available and easy to administer.

Once diagnosed and treated, most dogs make a full recovery. Like all diseases the key to successful treatment is taking action early.

For more information about lungworm prevention and control, please call Grove Lodge Vets on 01903 234866.