Posted 18th April 2013
The Be Lungworm Aware campaign has been running again to raise awareness of lungworm infection in dogs, which has become more prevalent across the UK in recent years. You may have seen the adverts on TV, heard them on the radio, or have come across them in magazines or the internet. We’ve put together some information about what you need to know and hopefully answer any questions you may have.
What is Lungworm?
Lungworm, Angiostrongylus vasorum, is a parasitic worm that lives in the blood vessels supplying the lungs and in the heart of affected dogs. In the UK most cases of Lungworm infestation in dogs occur in the Southwest of England and Southern Wales, but the parasite has been spreading and cases have been reported in the Home Counties and the Midlands. To date, very few confirmed cases have been reported in the area local to Brackley.
How can a dog get Lungworm?
Dogs can be infected by eating the lungworm larvae. These are microscopic and are present in the faeces of infected dogs and also carried by infected slugs and snails. Not all slugs and snails are infected with lungworm. A dog can be infected by eating the infected slugs or snails, or contaminated items in the environment such as grass, or contact with food and water or toys left outside.
What are the symptoms of Lungworm?
Symptoms of Lungworm infection vary between dogs with some dogs not showing any symptoms, but others having severe and potentially fatal illness. Younger dogs tend to be most commonly affected with the highest number of cases being seen in dogs under two years old. Symptoms of disease can include:
- Breathing problems
- Tiring easily on exercise
- Weight loss and poor appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Changes in behaviour
- Poor blood clotting
Not all infected dogs will display all of the above signs, and these symptoms are not specific for Lungworm infection as they do occur in other diseases. If your dog is displaying any of the above symptoms examination with a vet is advised. Diagnosis typically involves checking the faeces or airways for larvae. There are very effective treatments for Lungworm available and most diagnosed dogs who receive treatment make a full recovery.
Can Lungworm be prevented?
There is no 100% effective way to prevent a dog being infected with lungworm and over-the-counter worming products provide no protection. Advocate spot-on is a licenced product for prevention and treatment of Lungworm. Milbemax tablets, when used monthly, have been shown to be safe and to reduce the level of Lungworm infection. We typically recommend routine worming every 3 months in dogs over 6 months of age for the prevention of other roundworms and tapeworm infections, as well as cleaning up your dogs faeces, especially in public places. Monthly worming should be considered in dogs that are visiting areas such as the South West where lungworm is more prevalent, in young dogs and in dogs that are known to eat slugs and snails. Make sure outside food and water bowls and toys are cleaned regularly.
If you have any further enquiries or concerns please make an appointment or call us on 01280 703451