You may have heard lungworm being discussed by other dog owners in the park or even seen posters in the vet waiting room. But what actually is lungworm, what are the symptoms of lungworm in dogs and what is the best treatment for lungworm?
1. Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is a parasite that can cause serious health problems in dogs and can even be fatal if not diagnosed and treated early enough.
2. Slugs and snails carry the lungworm larvae which means dogs can become infected when they accidentally eat these common garden pests, or their infected slime.1
3. A recent survey of UK vets by Bayer, experts in parasitology, indicates that the vast majority (66%) have experienced a case of lungworm in their practice within the last year.2
4. Dogs of all ages and breeds can become infected with lungworm, but younger dogs are more likely to contract the parasite, due to their inquisitive nature and new owners not knowing enough about the risks of the parasite. The average age of affected animals is between just 10 and 14 months.3,4
5. If your dog likes to rummage through undergrowth, eat grass, drink from puddles or outdoor water bowls then speak to your vet about preventative treatment. Be careful about leaving your dog’s toys outside too as slugs and snails can be attracted to them.
6. Spring and autumn are peak times for slugs and snails due to the wet and mild conditions. It is important to be extra vigilant around these times.
7. Lungworm infection can result in a number of different signs in your dog which may be confused with other illnesses. However, some dogs will not show any signs.
8. Not all worming treatments cover lungworm. Only monthly prevention with products available on prescription from your vet will protect dogs against the parasite; use only every three months leaves dogs at risk of disease and even death.
9. Lungworm is now endemic throughout much of the UK, according to a study by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College, one in five veterinary practices in the UK have reported at least one clinical case in a dog.
1. Conboy et al. WAAVP 2015
2. Survey of 300 UK Vets, conducted by Bryter in March 2017.
3. Angiostrongylus vasorum infection in 23 dogs (1999-2002), P. S. Chapman et al., Journal of Small Animal Practice (2004) 45, 435–440
4. Spatial, demographic and clinical patterns of Angiostrongylus vasorum infection in the dog population of Southern England, T. R. W. Blehaut et al., Veterinary Record (2014) doi: 10.1136/vr.102186