Lungworm in dogs is increasing in the UK. Since the 1980’s ‘hot spots’ of infection have been noted in Cornwall and south Wales, however, since the early to mid 1990’s, clinical cases have been being seen more frequently and across a greater range, from the southern counties and as far north as Glasgow. Predictive mapping suggests that due to a change in climate to warmer, wetter weather; the parasite will continue this spread over the next 10 years and will be common throughout the UK.
What is Lungworm and How is it Spread?
The Lung worm Angiostrongylus vasorum is commonly found infecting dogs and foxes. The cat and human populations are not affected by this particular worm.
Dogs become infected through intentional or accidental ingestion of common garden slugs and snails carrying the lungworm larvae. These then migrate through the body, whilst developing through the larval stages to eventually become adults within the major blood vessels and right side of the heart.
How will Lungworm affect my dog?
Clinical signs of infection include the following:
- Breathing problems
– Exercise intolerance
– Shortness of breath
- Clotting problems
– Nose bleeds
– Bleeding excessively even from minor cuts
- Liver / Kidney problems
- Other non –specific signs of illness
– Poor appetite
– Weight loss
– Vomiting / Diarrhoea
Some dogs, however, have no clinical signs and can act as carriers, spreading infection. Infections can be fatal to the dog is not treated appropriately.
Treatment / Prevention of Disease
Whilst we are unable to prevent ingestion of the Lungworm Larvae, there are two treatments, Advocate (spot on treatment) and Milbemax (chewable tablet), available that will treat your dog and eradicate infection and prevent the diease.