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St Anne's Veterinary Group Blog

» Lungworm

You've probably heard about lungworm in the media and may have heard about it from us. I'm always surprised when I mention it in the consult room and people haven't heard of it because it's kind of a big deal. So what is lungworm? Its Latin name is Angiostrongylus vasorum, it is a parasite that can cause serious health issues in dogs and can even be fatal if not diagnosed and treated.

So how do they pick these blighters up? Slugs and snails carry the lungworm larvae and dogs can become infected when they accidently (or intentionally) eat these common garden pests whilst rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or water bowls that are outdoors, or from their toys especially those left outside. If dogs are infected they leave lungworm larvae in their faeces and that can then be ingested by other dogs. The cases are spreading across the UK and we have seen and treated several in Eastbourne.

The larvae are ingested and then penetrate the intestinal wall where they then migrate to the lungs. They then set up home in the lungs until they are an adult, the adults lay eggs that hatch and are coughed up, ingested into the stomach and released into the world in the faeces.

So what are the symptoms to watch out for?

  1. There can be breathing problems, coughing and getting tired easily.
  2. Poor blood clotting - so excessive bleeding from even minor cuts/wounds, nose bleeds, bleeding into the eye, anaemia (you will see paleness of the gums and around the eyes).
  3. General sickness- weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea.  
  4. Changes in behaviour- depression, lethargy and seizures (fits). A side note regarding foxes, they catch lung worm just as dogs and will only be a host as a dog would be.

So what can you do to prevent lungworm? Monthly treatment with a specific wormer and flea treatment is the only way to prevent it. Call us on 01323 640011 to make sure your dog is covered!

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