Lungworm in dogs is getting more common as each year goes by. It is commonest in young dogs but can affect any age. Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is lungworm?
Lungworm is an infection of dogs with a parasitic worm. This worm is usually picked up from slugs and snails who are hosts of this parasite. Infection is by swallowing a slug, snail or licking the slime trail left by these animals. The worm usually settles in the dog’s lungs or major blood vessels, larvae are then coughed up and swallowed by the dog, coming out in the faeces to infect slugs and snails again.
How does my dog catch lungworm?
As mentioned above, this is usually by swallowing a slug or snail. Remember some slugs are extremely small and your dog could swallow them just from being a dog, rummaging around in the garden. Also bear in mind dogs playing with toys that are left in the garden, drinking from puddles, streams or bird baths and eating grass can lead to infection.
What are the signs?
The signs can be very variable and non specific but include;
Bleeding excessively when cut
In rare cases the infection can be fatal, usually from excessive haemorrhage or pneumonia.
This can be difficult as the tests are not always positive even if your dog is infected. Blood or faeces tests are usually used.
This is relatively straightforward using a pill or a ‘spot on’ to kill the worms. Only a very few ‘spot ons’ are effective against lungworm so make sure you get veterinary advice.
Can lungworm infection be prevented?
Yes! Regular use of an effective ‘spot on’ or pill can prevent infection. Our VIP (Very Important Paws) Health Plan provides protection (and peace of mind) against this, and virtually all, parasites your dog can catch in this country. See details of these plans here.
There is a useful map of where lungworm has been confirmed by a laboratory, have a look at www.lungworm.co.uk. Remember many other cases of lungworm may not have had laboratory confirmation.