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Lungworm in Dogs

What Is Lungworm?

 

Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is a worm carried by dogs and foxes.

 

Infected dogs can become very poorly, and an infection can be fatal.

 

How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Lungworm?

 

Lungworms live inside blood vessels in the body, then lay eggs, which are carried to the lungs.

 

So signs of lungworm can include coughing, or breathing problems; however usually there are no signs at all until the condition became very serious.

 

At this point, you may see:

 

Bleeding - as lungworms stop the blood from clotting 

Not wanting to go for a walk 

Being ‘off-colour’ or not themselves 

Weight loss 

Diarrhoea 

 

Lungworm can also have no signs at all

 

 

 

 

 

How Common is Lungworm?

 

Lungworm is present across the whole of the UK, and is spread by a combination of foxes, slugs and snails.

 

How do dogs become infected?

 

  1. Dogs can lick or eat slugs and snails, or frogs, and the large then get inside the dog

  2. Dogs can lick the slime trails left by slugs and snails 

 

Why Do We Worry About Lungworm?

 

  1. Lungworm can cause generalised low level illness, which makes your dog under the weather

  2. Lungworm can develop into a very serious illness

  3. As lungworm stops the blood from clotting, if your dog gets a wound, or needs to have any surgery, then the bleeding may not stop. It can be fatal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do we Diagnose a Lungworm Infection?

 

We use a very quick blood test, so we can find out within minutes whether your dog has a lungworm infection. 

 

If we find that the test is positive, then we may need to do further blood tests to check clotting. Depending on signs, we may need to do an x-ray to check the deeper parts of the lungs, and use an endoscope to check the upper airway. We will also start your dog on treatment to kill the infection. 

 

 

 

Can I Prevent Lungworm Infection?

 

Yes! 

 

There are lots of ways to do this: 

 

  1. Using a specific monthly lungworm treatment from your vet. Over the counter pet shops products are not effective.

  2. Reduce the number of slugs and snails in your garden, so less chance of your dog eating them 

  3. Bring dog toys and bowls in at night, and give them a regular clean, so that they don’t get covered in snail and slug slime trails

  4. Clean up your dogs poo

 

 

Can I Get Lungworm?

No, Angiostrongylus vasorum doesn’t affect humans.

 

However, there are lots of other worms which can cause illness in humans, that’s why we recommend that all dogs are on an effective worming plan.