Canine Lungworm infections, caused by Angiostrongylus vasorum, have been becoming more frequent in recent years. Initially, cases were confined to more southern parts of the UK, however, over the last 10 years, they have been identified throughout the country, including Scotland.
How is canine lungworm picked up?
The early stages of the parasite infect slugs and snails, which can easily be picked up by pets in the garden or when out on walks. The parasite can also be transmitted through the slime trails left behind by these pests or by drinking contaminated water in puddles. Foxes can also act as hosts, and due to the long distances they travel, the disease may be spread over a wide geographical area.
After a dog picks up the worm larvae, they migrate through the body from the intestine to the heart, where they develop into adult worms. These adults will lay many eggs, which travel to the lungs and are coughed up and swallowed by the dog, eventually passing out in the faeces, starting the cycle over again.
Symptoms of Lungworm
The symptoms of lungworm infection can vary from no signs of ill health through to coughing/breathing difficulties, excessive bleeding, anaemia and neurological disorders such as seizures. Due to the wide range of potential symptoms, lungworm infections can be difficult to identify immediately and typically a number of tests are required to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Lungworm
Following diagnosis, the aims of treatment are to kill the worms causing the infection as well as managing the clinical signs. If a large number of worms are present, there is an increased chance of side effects following treatment due to the dead worms triggering an allergic reaction. If your dog is very unwell, it is likely that your vet will recommend they be admitted for more intensive care.
As most dogs are in contact with slugs and snails, it can be very difficult to prevent contact with lungworm. Thankfully, it is easy to prevent lungworm infection using our recommended wormer, when given on a regular monthly basis throughout the year.
If you have any concerns your dog is unwell, please contact the practice to arrange an appointment. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss lungworm prevention, a member of our nursing team will be happy to help.
Prevention is better than cure
As a member of the Premier Pet Club, you receive lungworm protection, and comprehensive worm treatment tailored to your dog’s needs, to keep them worm-free throughout the year.
Members also receive a wide range of other benefits such as UNLIMITED consultations, flea, tick & mite treatments, routine vaccinations, and receive great savings on many key services.