Is your dog inquisitive?
Lungworm is life-threatening and carried by slugs and snails. If your dog accidentally ate one of these common garden visitors, there is a risk it could become infected.
The lungworm Anglostrongylus vasorum is a parasite which infects dogs and also foxes in the UK and Ireland. As this parasite can be fatal, it is important dog owners are aware of the signs of infection and understand what you can do to prevent and treat this parasite.
How does my dog become infected?
Your dog can become infected by eating slugs and snails which may carry the larvae of the parasite. While some dogs eat slugs and snails on purpose, the hidden danger is from small slugs and snails which your dog can accidentally swallow when they are drinking from outdoor water bowls, playing with toys left out in the garden, or even rummaging through the undergrowth.
It is recommended that water or feed bowls and toys kept outside should be kept clear of slugs and snails to reduce the risk of your dog eating these common garden visitors.
It was once seen as a problem in Southern England, Wales and Ireland but sadly lungworm has spread and cases have been reported in Northern England and Scotland. The reason for this spread is not clear but could be due to movement of infected dogs and foxes across the country, and a change in slug and snail populations
So what are the symptoms?
Once lungworm is inside your dog there can be quite a few different symptoms, some of which can be confused with other illnesses. If your dog is infected with lungworm, it will probably show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Breathing problems or coughing, tiring more easily
- Poor blood clotting leading to excessive bleeding from minor wounds, nose bleeds, bleeding in the eye, and anaemia (paleness of gums)
- Behavioural changes, seizures (fits), spinal pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea
Younger dogs under 2 years are most commonly affected – probably due to their inquisitive nature. However, any breed at any age can be at risk. Some dogs do not show any signs in the early stages of infection. If you notice any of the symptoms described above or if it seems your dog may be at risk, it is important to talk to your vet.
Early diagnosis and treatment will give your dog the best change of a complete recovery.