Lungworm (Angiostrongylus Vasorum) is a parasite that infects dogs with potentially fatal consequences. Infected dogs can suffer from acute breathing problems, neurological problems and can even bleed to death! Make sure you understand this important disease and ensure your dog is protected.
Lungworm is transmitted by common slugs and snails which dogs can ingest either purposefully of accidentally. Dogs being dogs are always eating things from the ground, drinking from outdoor pools or playing with toys outside. The larvae that are present in the slugs or snails are ingested and migrate to the major blood vessels of the heart that supply the lungs.
Infected dogs can have serious health problems as a result of the parasite but they are also a source of shedding the infection as they shed the parasite in the faeces and can cause other dogs to be infected. Foxes can also transmit this parasite and are thought to be contributing to the spread of this disease.
Which Dogs are at Risk?
ALL DOGS ARE AT RISK OF LUNGWORM INFECTION!
Dogs of all breeds and all ages can become infected with lungworm. Many cases diagnosed in veterinary practice are younger dogs who seem to be more prone to pick up the parasite. Dogs who are known to eat slugs and snails are especially at risk.
Signs of Lungworm Infection
There are many different signs associated with lungworm infection, some dogs may not actually show any signs at all until advanced stages of the disease. If your dog is showing any of the following signs then you need to consult your vet immediately.
- Breathing problems
- Bleeding (around the gums, eyes or from the nose, excessive bleeding from cuts or wounds)
- Lethargy and weight loss
- Vomiting / Diarrhoea
When it comes to lungworm – prevention is better than cure!
Ask your vet if your current parasite treatments will help to prevent lungworm. Many effective products are prescription only and so can only be supplied by a veterinary surgeon. Pet shop and supermarket bought products may not be effective.
Giving a worming tablet every 3 months is not an effective prevention for lungworm and infections may still occur.