Many news outlets in the UK are currently reporting an outbreak of lungworm which can be deadly to dogs if left untreated. Below is a brief guide on how to identify lungworm and what to do if you spot any of the signs.
What is lungworm?Lungworm is an infection which can be deadly to dogs caused by the round worm parasite called Angiostrongylus Vasorum (AV). The lungworm larvae are carried by slugs and snails which is generally how dogs become infected - when they play with or consume them. That being said, they can also come into contact with the larvae by simply eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls. Toys which have been left outside on the grass can also have the larvae present. A very important thing to remember is that lungworm cannot be passed from dog to dog. The worm needs a host in order to grow and develop before infecting your dog. This is usually in snails, slugs or frogs. The reported incidents of lungworm were more common in the south of the UK however there is an increasing number of cases being reported in the North. Our understanding is that this is far from an epidemic, but more and more cases are being reported.
Are any breeds more at risk than others?Dogs of any breed can become infected however research does show that spaniels are the most common dogs to pick up the larvae. This has been put down to either a breed defect or due to the fact the dogs are generally outdoors more as they are used for working.
Signs and symptoms of lungwormSome dogs will show no symptoms initially and when they do, it can often be confused as just a general illness.
- The shedding of larvae in faeces for long periods of time
- Your dog may develop a cough due to the present of the worms in the lungs
- Blood related problems. Blood in urine, vomiting blood etc are all signs to look out for
- Reddening of the eyes
- Breathing difficulty
- Tiring easily
- Poor blood clotting
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
Treatment of lungwormIf you suspect your dog may have lungworm you vet can test for this in a number of different ways. Your dogs condition may worsen during the treatment due to the number of dying worms inside your dog's body - this can be common. Your vet will be able to discuss with you the treatment for your dog in order to get rid of the infection. The sooner the infection is identified better chance your dog has of becoming completely rid of the worms. Finally, although more and more cases of lungworm infection are being reported, it is still not common. You should speak to your vet during your next visit to see how you can minimise the chances of your beloved dog contracting the infection.
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