What do they look like and where do they live?
- Angiostrongylus vasorum (lungworm) resides in the heart and pulmonary arteries and can be fatal to dogs
- A. vasorum adults are slender worms of around 2.5cm in length but they are never seen as they remain inside the infected dog or fox. The larvae, which are passed out in faeces, are also impossible to see as they are microscopic
How can my pet contract lungworm?
- Dogs can become infected with this life-threatening parasite by swallowing infected slugs and snails
- A. vasorum reports are spreading with cases now being found beyond the traditional areas in Southern England and Wales. Recently there have been confirmed cases in Ayrshire and other parts of Scotland
- Slugs and snails can be very small; even if dogs don’t eat slugs and snails on purpose, they may do accidentally when eating grass, drinking from outdoor water bowls, rummaging in undergrowth or playing with a toy outdoors
How will this parasite affect my pet?
- Symptoms can be varied, but can include, coughing, tiring easily, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive bleeding from minor wounds and seizures. A dog may show one or any combination of these
- If treatment is initiated early enough, dogs can go on to make a full recovery
- If left untreated, this parasite can be fatal to dogs
- Even after successful treatment, re-infection is possible so on-going preventative treatment should be considered
How do I treat lungworm?
- Due to the serious nature of this parasite a regular preventative treatment should be considered if you frequently see slugs or snails in your locality. Slugs and snails are on the increase and dogs can swallow these accidentally. Standard wormers do not prevent this parasite so speak to one of the vets for more advice.