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Looking After Your Lungworm

Pet Advice

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Lungworm, Angiostrongylus vasorum (also known as French Heartworm), is a parasite that infects dogs and if left untreated is often fatal.  

The immature stages of the lungworm parasite are carried by slugs and snails, which can be consumed, either purposefully or accidentally by your pets.  Some dogs eat grass, which can be laden with small slugs and snails, whilst some dogs may accidentally pick them up from water bowls or toys.  Once the slugs and snails enter the intestine, the small immature stages (larvae) break out of the slugs and snails and travel to the heart and major blood vessels supplying the lungs, where the worms can cause a whole host of problems.

Lungworm infections can have serious health implications for your dog, with the condition often fatal if not diagnosed and treated. Furthermore, the infected dogs can go on to shed lots of immature lungworm into the environment in the form of larvae, which are then taken up by slugs and snails and the cycle begins again.

This condition can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. However, younger, more inquisitive dogs seem to be more at risk from lungworm, as are dogs who actively eat slugs, snails and grass in high risk areas. The South West of England and Wales are classed as high risks areas due to their wetter milder climates and the resulting high population of slugs and snails.

Lungworm infections can result in a wide range of different symptoms. Sometimes, the dog may not demonstrate any obvious illness, however, the most common signs of lungworm infection include coughing, tiring easily on walks, pale gums, unexplained bleeding, intestinal upset and seizures.  If your dog is showing any of these signs, we recommend you seek veterinary advice and take a faeces sample with you for testing.

There are a number of treatments available for lungworm.  If your dog is positively diagnosed, usually by testing the faeces sample under the microscope, your vet may prescribe one of a number of possible treatments.

With regular monthly treatment, however, you needn't let it get to this point.  Although you can't prevent your dog picking up Lungworm, you can limit the impact that Lungworm can have on your dogs health by using regular monthly treatments.

There are two licensed treatments available to help you combat lungworm. Spot on medications used monthly can be effective and certain worming tablets used on a monthly basis, at high risk times (Spring and Summer), will also help to keep your pet lungworm free.

Speak to your veterinary surgeon and decide on a protocol that is suitable for you and your dog.

Here at Doolittle’s Dispensary we stock a number of worming treatments that you can purchase with a valid prescription signed by your vet.  For more information about purchasing prescription only medications please click here.

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