Lungworm – is your dog at risk?
The life-threatening lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum is carried by slugs and snails. If your dog swallows one of these common garden visitors there is a risk it could become infected.
Lungworm is a life threatening disease which appears to be on the increase. For dogs to become infected they must eat infective larvae. These may be present in slugs, snails and sometimes in frogs. Some dogs might not eat these creatures on purpose; they may do so by accident, e.g. when a slug or snail falls into a water bowl or is attached to a bone, treat or toy. It is recommended to keep outdoor toys and bowls clear of slugs and snails to help reduce the chances of accidental ingestion. Younger dogs are more likely to eat slugs or snails on purpose as they tend to be more inquisitive and less discerning about their food!!
Life cycle of Angiostrongylus vasorum
1: Adult worms are found in the heart and pulmonary arteries. These worms lay eggs which hatch into larvae and pass into the airways of the lungs.
2: The larvae are coughed up and swallowed, passing out in the dog’s poo.
3: Slugs and snails then swallow the larvae and pose a threat to other dogs.
4: These dogs eat the slug/snail, the larvae migrate to the heart/pulmonary arteries and grow into adults……and so the cycle continues.
5: Foxes are natural hosts for lungworm and are also responsible for the spread of the disease.
Symptoms of Lungworm
Lungworm can result in a number of different symptoms, some if which are easily confused with other illnesses. Symptoms include:
* Breathing problems
* Tiring more easily
* Poor blood clotting leading to excessive bleeding from minor wounds
* Behavioural changes
* Weight loss
* Loss of appetite
* Vomiting and diarrhoea
Younger dogs are more susceptible to lungworm infection; however, any breed at any age can be at risk.
Treatment of Lungworm
Early diagnosis and treatment will give your dog the best chance of a complete recovery. Thankfully, treatment and prevention medications are available. To find out more contact City Vet on 061-419760.