A lungworm diagnosis is enough to strike fear into the owner of any dog. This is because the parasite can prove fatal.
Relatively new to the UK the first cases of Lungworm infection were reported on the South coast. Now, however, the condition is becoming diagnosed more frequently and cases have been reported throughout the UK.
To contract and become infected by lungworm a dog must eat either an infected slug or snail, for these small creatures are the otherwise inoffensive carriers of the worm. The condition can be undiagnosed for a long time and the reason for a dog’s symptoms attributed to a condition other than a parasitic one.
What does a Lungworm do?
When ingested via an infected slug or snail, eaten by the dog, the adult lungworm will release its eggs within the body of a dog. The eggs will then attach to the small capillaries within the lungs and irritate the dog enough to cough them up out of the body or ingest them directly into the faeces. Adult worms will then live within the heart or capillaries causing considerable problems within the body of the dog.
The young then attach to further slugs or snails by being eaten and the cycle will reoccur.
The effect of the parasite within the body is serious enough to severely impede the health of any dog.
The main and only proven way that a dog can become infected by lungworm is to eat slugs and snails. There is no evidence to suggest that infection can be passed dog to dog. The infection can be caused by purposely eating the small creatures or accidentally ingesting them when grooming etc.
Mild symptoms are easy to miss but if your dog does like to scavenge and eat things that he shouldn’t, or you holiday regularly in areas that have a large concentration of cases, then it is certainly worth keeping an eye on him for the following symptoms.
- Loss of energy
- Problems with breathing
- Any reluctance to go for a walk
- Excessive bleeding from a small cut or odd blood clotting
- General sickness
- Poor appetite
If you are concerned that your pet has been infected with lungworm then it is important to visit your veterinary surgery for parasite treatments. To diagnose the infection the dog may have chest X-rays, faeces screening along with a physical examination of the chest and lungs. An extreme infection can actually prove fatal to the dog and therefore cannot be left untreated.
If a mother dog is infected with lungworm she could possibly pass on the parasite to her puppies during nursing. General flea and worm treatments are a necessity if your dog is at risk of infection. Speaking to your own vet will give you the best idea of which to use.
If a dog is proven to be infected then the veterinarian will prescribe a specific anti-parasitical drug in order to rid the body of the worm. Dogs that have a previous history of lungworm can develop a level of immunity to further infection.