10 Things All Dog Owners Should Know About Lungworm

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

Strictly Come Crufts – Tess Daly visits as world’s largest dog show celebrates 125th anniversary

Watch our video featuring celebrity Tess Daly as she returns to Crufts to raise awareness of the dangers of lungworm

Crufts is one of the largest dog events in the world, originally staged in 1891 by Charles Cruft, which this year celebrates its 125th anniversary.

For prospective dog owners and dog lovers, Crufts is a great opportunity to talk to Kennel Club Assured Breeders, rescue charities and breed experts about how to responsibly buy, train and enjoy life with a dog, not to mention an exhibition of all things cute and fluffy.

We caught up with dog lover, Tess Daly, who is appearing as part of her role as ambassador for the Be Lungworm Aware campaign.

After being involved in the campaign in 2015, Tess became increasingly convinced that her golden retriever, Sam, may have died of lungworm.

As a result, Tess is attending this year’s event to encourage other dog owners to be alert to the dangers of lungworm and look-out for signs their dog could have become infected the deadly parasite.

For all this and more watch our informative video as we catch up with Tess and get some sneak peaks of the event itself.

How dogs can contract the lungworm parasite?

Ingesting Larvae: Slugs and snails carry the lungworm larvae and dogs can become infected when they eat these common garden pests whilst rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or pick them up from their toys

Faeces: Infected dogs and foxes spread the parasite into the environment as the lungworm larvae are excreted in their faeces, slugs and snails that come into contact with the faeces can become infected, increasing the chances of other dogs becoming infected

Foxes: A study from the University of Bristol published in 2015 which examined the fox population, whose faeces can spread lungworm larvae, suggested that the overall prevalence of lungworm in foxes is 18.3 per cent in the UK, which is significantly higher than in previous years

Travel: With more people travelling in the UK with their dogs, and foxes roaming up to 50km, the risk of the parasite spreading around the country will continue

Do you know what the signs of lungworm in your dog are?

This canine disease is most commonly caused by swallowing slugs and snails carrying the lungworm larvae but it is preventable and treatable so it is vital people know how to spot the symptoms

Once the lungworm parasite is inside dogs’ systems, it can cause symptoms such as breathing problems, tiring easily, coughing, persistent bleeding, vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some cases, death for beloved canine companions.

Evidence from the Royal Veterinary College confirms the lungworm parasite has spread across the UK, from its traditional habitat in the south of England and Wales, now being widespread in Central England and also reaching northern regions and Scotland, with one in five vet practices reporting at least one case of the parasite1 A year ago animal health experts Bayer launched a Lungworm Mapping Tool to assist with plotting the prevalence of the disease across the UK, as part of a wider research programme to better monitor and document the spread of the potentially fatal disease. Vets are continuing to report cases of lungworm in their practices to be added to the interactive map, helping them to see where dogs could be at risk.

Useful Links