Recently, a dalmation called Pongo was taken to Medivet Hendon for an emergency CT scan of his chest because he was experiencing some problems with his breathing. The team noticed a problem with his lungs, so the lovely veterinary surgeon, Jerry Dunne, took him straight to surgery.
Lungworms were found and the pesky parasites created a hole in Pongo's lungs; the vet said this was the cause of his breathing problems.
Thankfully, with surgery, Pongo managed to recover well, but he could have faced a very different outcome if he wasn’t taken to the vets as quickly as he had been.
This is a story that reminds us all how life-threatening lungworms can be. So we thought it would be useful to provide you, the beloved dog owner, with the information you need to understand the signs and symptoms of lungworm, and how it can be prevented.
What is a lungworm?
A lungworm is a type of parasite worm, called Angiostrongyluss Vasorum, which settles in the lungs and windpipe of dogs, causing severe respiratory problems. It can cause serious health issues and, if not diagnosed or treated, it can be fatal. Luckily it can be prevented – there are preventative products available and with regular use, prevention is easy to achieve.
What’s the cause?
Dogs become infected with lungworms when they drink water or eat prey that is infected with the larval stage of lungworm.
Slugs and snails carry the larvae of the lungworm parasite and can infect dogs if ingested. Dogs have plenty of opportunities to come into contact with slugs and snails on walks. They hide in grass or under objects left in the garden.
Signs and symptoms
Lungworm infections can result in a number of different signs, which may easily be confused with other illnesses. But improved detection methods, including blood tests and stool sampling, mean more cases are now being confirmed. If your dog displays any of the below signs, you should consult your veterinary surgeon immediately:
Breathing problems – coughing, tiredness
Poor blood clotting – excessive bleeding from even minor wounds/cuts, nose bleeds, bleeding into the eye, anaemia (paleness around the eyes and gums)
General sickness – weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea
Changes in behaviour – depression, lethargy, seizures (fits)
If you are concerned about any of the information you’ve read above or have any further questions, please speak to your local veterinary surgeon by using our online practice finder tool.
Prevention is far better than cure and the key to successful treatment is to take action early. As lungworms can be fatal, it is important to prevent it in the first place.
There are preventative products available and with regular use, prevention is easy to achieve. Your veterinary surgeon will be the best person to speak to for advice about the best prevention programme for your pet.
Did you know that our Medivet Healthcare Plan includes a complete worm protection programme? You’ll also receive 10% off all vet care and medications. By signing your pet up to our healthcare plan, you simply make an initial payment followed by 11 equal direct debit payments and we take care of the rest. Find out more about how the Medivet Healthcare Plan benefits your pet, and what is included in the plan.
In the unfortunate event that your dog is diagnosed with lungworm, treatment is available from your veterinary surgeon and it is easy to administer. Most dogs make a full recovery after receiving treatment but the key to successful treatment is to take action sooner rather than later.
This content has been provided as part of the Be Lungworm Aware campaign to help raise the profile of this parasite among dog owners.
For further information and advice, please contact your local veterinary surgeon by using our online practice finder tool. All members of our friendly teams are more than happy to assist you.
Posted April 5, 2016 in Preventative Healthcare