Lungworm: Hundreds of dogs are likely to suffer this summer thanks to a parasite that lives on slugs, the slimy pest that many households would prefer to be rid of.
A vet in Southend, Gareth Richardson, has been in the media this week warning dog owners about how dangerous it could be if their dogs deliberately or accidentally eat snails or slugs, thanks to a lungworm infection carried by the pests that can be potentially fatal if it leads to a disease known as angiostrongylosis.
Mr Richardson advised:
“It is something that is more of an emerging condition. We are seeing more of it than we used to. It has become a bigger problem in the South East because the climate here is a bit warmer which helps the slugs and snails do well.”
The lungworm condition is becoming more common in the UK because the climate of our nation is ideal for both snails and slugs yet only 6 per cent of dog owners are aware of the disease, according to a nationwide survey of UK vets that also revealed around a quarter of vets had either confirmed or suspected a case of this disease. Unfortunately, lungworm is also rather difficult to diagnose because it can show as a wide range of symptoms, which can include vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss, coughing, fits, bleeding, general weakness, paralysis or just a reluctance to go on walks.
It is important to note that lungworm cannot be treated with the usual worming treatment given regularly by responsible dog owners although there is a special monthly product that can be given to protect from lungworm. The good news is that most dogs are successfully treated when diagnosed if detected early enough.
If your dog is in the habit of eating slugs or snails, take particular care, and if any of these symptoms are seen, be sure to get your dog to a vet as quickly as possible. If you are concerned but have seen no outward symptoms, then a vet can do a test that may help to detect lungworm.
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