Be Lungworm Aware!
We have started to see cases of lungworm in this area and as a result are encouraging owners to be vigilant and consider preventative treatments to reduce the risk of lungworm infection in their dogs.
What is Lungworm?
Lungworm (Angiostrongylous vasorum) is a nematode parasite that infects dogs. Once a dog is infected the worm inhabits blood vessels in the lungs and lays eggs into the airways which hatch to produce lungworm larvae.
How could my dog become infected with lungworm?
- Lungworm is carried by garden slugs and snails. Dogs can become infected when they accidentally or purposefully eat these.
- A diagram showing the life cycle of the parasite is below.
What signs would I see if my dog was infected?
There are many clinical signs associated with lung worm infection, if you are concerned at all it is best to speak to your vet.
- Coughing or breathing difficulties
- Excessive bleeding from wounds or bruising
- Bleeding within the white of the eye
- Nose bleeds
- Sudden onset neurological signs such as an inability to use back legs or fits/seizures
Lungworm diagnosis is becoming easier with the development of new testing techniques.
Faecel testing: faecal sample is sent to a laboratory to be examined for evidence of lungworm.
Blood testing: we now have a in-house blood test available for the diagnosis of lungworm. This gives a same-day result.
Radiography: although radiography does not give a definite diagnosis, we may take a chest xray if we are suspicious of lungworm as changes to the lung fields may be seen.
Lung wash: Samples are taken directly from the airways to look for evidence of lungworm larvae. Carries risks so not the first choice but may be necessary in some cases.
If you are suspicious your dog may have lungworm then please phone for an appointment to see a vet.
Lungworm infection can be easily prevented by using one of two products:
Advocate: spot-on preparation applied every 4 weeks. Also used to prevent fleas, mites and in the treatment of roundworm, hookworm and whipworm.
Milbemax: tablet treatment. You may be familiar with this product as your routine wormer. For the prevention of lungworm you need to administer every 4 weeks. Also used for the treatment of tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm and whipworm.
If your dog is diagnosed as having lungworm then appropriate treatments will be prescribed. These treatments are different to those used for prevention of infection.
We would encourage owners to always try and prevent infection rather than just treat once infection has become established. Lungworm infection is serious and although in most cases can be treated effectively, in some cases it can be fatal.
If you suspect your dog may have lungworm – contact your vet and arrange an appointment.