Lungworm in both cats and dogs is less common than intestinal worms but can cause serious problems.
Did you know that lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is transmitted by slugs and snails? Your dog can become infected by swallowing one of these critters, or even by accidently ingesting the slime that they leave behind. This can happen more easily than you think…often when your dog is just ‘being a dog’ – rummaging in the undergrowth, eating grass, playing with toys left outdoors or drinking from outdoor water bowls or puddles!
There is evidence that puppies and young dogs are more susceptible, probably because of their lifestyle choices. Most of the time infection may have no symptoms but it can be associated with a cough and in the worst cases infection can interfere with blood clotting and thus cause bleeding and be fatal. Mild infections can damage the lung tissue and make it easier for secondary infections to occur such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Lungworm is commoner in some areas rather than others but has been found all over the UK
Diagnosis is usually by looking at a faeces sample but blood tests are helpful too. There are treatments, but remember not all worming treatments are effective against lung worms and if there are secondary infections or bleeding problems then more intensive treatment may be required. The best way to protect your dog is with monthly preventatives – speak to us to find out more.
Lungworm can be caught by cats too, but it is a different species, (aelurostrongylus abstrusus). It is much less of a problem in cats but elderly and young cats as well as those with other diseases, are at more risk of illness. Lungworm can also lead to secondary infections.
Cats commonly catch lungworm from infected prey such as birds and mice, but they can also catch it from drinking infected water or from snails and slugs.
Symptoms include a cough or difficulty breathing but it can just cause lethargy. Treatment is by appropriate worming medicines and also treating any secondary problems.