Lungworm, caused by Angiostrongylus vasorum is gradually becoming increasing common throughout the UK and Ireland. In affected dogs, clinical signs can range from a mild cough to life threatening bleeding problems.
Slugs and snails can carry the larval stage of Angiostrongylus vasorum and if dogs eat slugs and snails, they can become unwittingly infected. Some pets seem to have a taste for these garden dwellers but all dogs are at risk. Some species of slug are very small and can be accidentally swallowed when dogs eat grass, drink from puddles or play with toys that have been left outside. The disease is commonest in young dogs that eat or play with slugs and snails.
Once swallow, the larvae migrate to the heart where they will develop into adult worms. The adult lungworms live in the heart and those blood vessels supplying the lungs. Here they lay their eggs, which hatch into larvae and migrate into the airways of the lungs. The dog then coughs them up, swallows the larvae, sheds them in the faeces and the life cycle begins again.
Clinical signs of lungworm can be vague and variable – ranging from a cough or tiring more easily, to bruising easily, serious bleeding problems and even fitting.
Prevention is very important for this potentially fatal disease – the only effective treatment is a monthly spot on that also prevents, fleas, mites, lice and other worms. Routine wormers do not prevent lungworm.
If you have any concerns about your dog regarding any of the above signs or wish to find out more about preventing this disease, please pop in or give us a call.