Frequently asked questions about Lungworm
Is this a new problem?
Angiostrongylus vasorum, better known as dog lungworm is not a new disease. It was first reported in the UK in 1982 in Cornwall and was soon found to be present in Wales and the West Country. Spread of the disease more widely across the UK has led to heightened publicity about this condition. Reports recently in the press have sensationalised this disease and caused more concerns than may be necessary.
What is lungworm?
Angiostrongylus vasorum (and another similar worm named Crenosoma vulpis) are worms that infect dogs. The adult stage of this lungworm lives in the heart and major blood vessels of the lungs, where it can cause a host of problems. Foxes can also become infected with lungworm, and have been implicated in the spread of the parasite across the country.
How might my dog catch it?
Lungworm is carried by slugs and snails. There is some debate over the exact details but some sources have suggested the problem may arise when dogs purposefully or accidentally eat these common garden pests when rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or pick them up from their toys.
Is my dog at risk?
Fortunately for us, this worm seems to be found in very localised almost ‘post code specific’ areas. Currently we see very little of the disease in our immediate area.
What are the signs my dog is affected?
There are many symptoms associated with lungworm, but the most common would be coughing. Rarely blood clotting disorders and bleeding are seen. Some dogs just present as being slightly unwell others even appear outwardly healthy.
How can I treat it or prevent it?
There are currently three main drugs that kill or reduce numbers of the worm; all based on worming (and flea control) products. Not all wormers will kill lungworm effectively and the frequency of worming treatment is important in this particular disease. We will be happy to provide specific information for your pet based on your current wormer and flea control use and the risk to your dog.
Should I be worried?
No. Lungworm is rare in our area, so your dog will have a very low risk of contracting the disease. All of our vets and nurses are well aware of lungworm and will factor in the risks for your pet when advising on the best worming and flea prevention. Unfortunately there is not one product that will kill fleas, ticks, intestinal worms and lungworm currently so the particular requirements your pet might have will be based on their individual situation.
At Hillside we believe in providing the very best and up-to-date health advice for your pets. Lungworm is a changing disease in the UK and we will monitor this and keep you well informed. Currently in our area the risk is very small and your dog is far more likely to suffer from common parasites such as intestinal roundworms, fleas and ticks which can also cause serious health problems than contracting lungworm. We will be very happy to provide a specific ‘risk assessment’ for your dog for you at your next visit.
Please don’t worry but remember we are here to help.
Disclaimer: The information and advice contained in this handout is for general information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for a veterinary examination and/or specific treatment or advice. You should always seek advice from your veterinary surgeon.
Hillside Veterinary Centre 116 Wareham Road Corfe Mullen Wimborne BH21 3LH
t: 01202 698899 f: 01202 657400 e: firstname.lastname@example.org