Lungworm and it’s Prevention

Lungworm and it's Prevention

We are increasingly being asked about the potentially fatal problem of lungworm infestation in dogs. This is caused by infection with the lungworm parasite, namely Angiostrongylus Vasorum.

The parasite is increasingly being found outside of its traditional main areas of infestation which were the South West and Wales. Dogs become infected with lungworm after eating common garden slugs or snails or eating grass or drinking from puddles where the slugs and snails have been. They ingest an intermediate stage of the lungworm often from foxes who act as a carrier of the parasite. The problem is most commonly seen in inquisitive puppies but any age of dog can be affected. After ingestion the parasite travels through the body eventually ending up in the heart and lungs.

There are a wide range of symptoms. Weight loss and lack of appetite over a period of time is common with the chronic form. Dogs which develop the more serious acute form of the disease tend to deteriorate rapidly often resulting in death. Possible symptoms with the acute form are coughing, rapid heavy breathing, exercise intolerance and possible collapse. Poor blood clotting occurs, and owners may see bruises forming easily. Excessive bleeding from cuts, nose bleeds and pale gums are further evidence of poor blood clotting. The central nervous system can also be affected causing seizures and loss of balance.

Although treatment is possible in some cases, it is a disease where prevention is the best option. If your dog is in a high-risk group-rural walks, eats slugs and snails then the only way to give an effective prevention against lungworm would be to use a monthly application of a product called Advocate. This also has the added advantage of complete flea and roundworm control. Apart from regular medication you can also reduce exposure to the lungworm by cleaning toys which have been left out and not leaving food or water bowls outside. Using slug pellets can help but please note that they are extremely poisonous to dogs (and cats).

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Our Pet Healthcare Loyalty Scheme has a 12-month supply of Advocate included and is a very cost-effective way of ensuring your pet stays Lungworm free.

We would still advise treating for tapeworms every six months. If ticks are a problem, then your pet would also need a separate treatment for this.

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