Lungworms are short worms, only reaching 2.5cm in length as adults, which live within the chambers of the heart, and in the artery that connects the heart to the lungs. Despite their main home being in the heart, these worms are called lungworms as they cause mainly lung-related signs such as coughing. Unlike some other worm species you won’t see an adult lungworm, as the adults only live within dogs and foxes.
Canine lungworm, also known as Angiostrongylus vasorum, reproduce by producing eggs which hatch into larvae. These larvae are coughed up from the lungs, swallowed, and passed out in faeces. Once in the faeces, larvae are picked up by slugs and snails, and mature until they are old enough to be infective to dogs and foxes.
Prevalence in our UK fox population has grown from 7% to 18%, meaning that it would be practically impossible to eradicate lungworm from the wildlife population. With slugs and snails as another reservoir of infection, protecting our dogs with lungworm preventative treatments is the only way to ensure they are not exposed to infection.