Veterinary surgeons from Vets4Pets are warning dog owners to be on the lookout for a potentially fatal disease caused by infection with the lungworm parasite (Angiostrongylus vasorum).
A recent survey of 1,000 UK dog owners has revealed that the majority (84 per cent) admit not being able to identify the symptoms of lungworm in their dog, despite a study issued by the Royal Veterinary College, London, warning of its spread across the country.
The study has shown the parasite is spreading beyond the traditional geographic distribution with 36 per cent of veterinary practices across the country reporting at least one case of lungworm in the past year.
Lungworm is a parasite that dogs become infected with after eating common garden slugs and snails carrying the larvae. Once inside the dog’s system, the parasite travels through the body eventually ending up in the heart. If the infection is left untreated, the dog’s health can rapidly deteriorate, often resulting in death.
Adam Russell, veterinary surgeon comments “Once seen as a problem in isolated areas, lungworm has spread in the UK. While dog owners are becoming more aware of lungworm, there is still a real lack of understanding as to the warning signs associated with the condition and that monthly prevention is vital and easy to achieve.
Dogs are naturally inquisitive and are frequently keen to test new things out with their mouths, as 59 per cent of UK dog owners admit their animal has eaten something it shouldn’t have. As a result, more than two thirds of owners regularly worry their pet will get sick as a result of its unchecked diet.
Adam explains “Dogs which have picked up a lungworm infection can show a number of different symptoms. Lungworm often gives rise to breathing difficulties, ranging from a lack of energy to coughing. Dogs may also show general signs of being unwell including weight loss, reduced appetite and vomiting. Persistent bleeding, even from minor cuts is also a sign to watch out for. However, the symptoms can be varied and some dogs may appear healthy in the early stages of infection, so if owners are concerned about their dog’s health, they should contact their veterinary practice for further advice”.
A specific spot-on treatment has been available to veterinary surgeons for a number of years, and a recent advance means that this treatment now also prevents dogs developing a lungworm infection. Used monthly, the treatment protects dogs, not only from lungworm, but also from more commonly found parasites such as fleas and intestinal worms.
Adam is encouraging dog owners to contact Vets4Pets for further information, or to discuss their dog’s parasite protection plan.
If you visit your local Vets4Pets practice between April 2nd and April 30th, you will also get 25% off selected flea and worm treatments
Find your nearest Vets4Pets practice here.