The good news is that lungworm in dogs is far less common than other parasites like fleas and ticks. Now for the bad news, it is spreading rapidly across the UK and no-one is exactly sure why and Lungworm is lethal to dogs if it is not treated.
As the problem has been growing an awareness campaign has been underway, and you will probably have seen the ad
For this reason it is imperative that you recognise the signs of infestation as early as possible and get treatment. This article will explain what lungworm is, how your dog can get it, what the symptoms are and what to do if you think your pet has become infested.
What is Lungworm?
Lungworm is a parasite that can cause serious health problems in dogs, including death, if it is not diagnosed and treated. Unlike other parasites like tapeworm, which require very high levels of infestation before they cause dogs any real health problems, lungworm in dogs can cause catastrophic problems at low levels.
Lungworm is a general term for several species of nematode worms of the order Strongylida. All of them migrate to their hosts' lungs or respiratory tracts and gradually damage the airways or lung tissue by inciting an inflammatory reaction inside the tissue, hence their lung worm name.
How Do Dogs Get Lungworm?
Lungworm are parasitic worms that are usually carried by snails and slugs and ingested when these mollusks are eaten. Once ingested the snail or slug gets digested but the larvae can survive in the abdomen. Once freed it makes its way to the lungs of the dog where it develops into an adult.
While you should always make sure you keep your dog away from snails and slugs, recent research from the Atlantic Veterinary College has has also shown that infectious larvae can also be released into the mollusk's slime where they were shown to survive for up to 15 days on vegetation.
Lungworm can find their way into your dog even if they show no interest in eating slugs or snails as small snails and slugs can easily be ingested while eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls or if a snail leaves a trail across a dog's toy or similar.
To make matters even worse there are types of lungworm that can be carried by foxes. These are then excreted by the foxes and I am sure you do not need reminding how much dogs love fox poop... So while care is needed to keep your dog safe from lungworm it cannot be limited to simply keeping them away from snails any more.
The problem arises when dogs 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.
We’re also able to educate more owners about the dangers and the importance of good, preventative healthcare.
Common lungworm types affecting dogs in the UK
There are many different types of lungworm, some affect cattle, deer, goats etc but there are two types of lungworm that commonly affect dogs in the UK; Angiostrongylus Vasosum (or French Heartworm) and Crenosoma Vulpis (or Fox Lungworm). There are others including Oslerus Osleri and Filaroides Hirth but, as these are far less common, they have been omitted them from this article.
Angiostrongylus Vasosum Lifecycle
The adult lungworms adults live in the blood vessels supplying the lungs to their host. Here they lay eggs which hatch and the larvae migrate into the lungs, causing an irritation in their host. Once the host coughs, the larvae are propelled up into the mouth and then swallowed where they go through their host's digestive system before being expelled in their faeces.
Dog faeces are highly nutritious to snails and slugs. The larvae need to find themselves eaten by snails or slugs within 7 days for them to survive. If they find a new host they mature to the next larval stage, which can infect dogs. Between 10 and 17 days after being excreted by the dog these infective larvae enter another dog when it eats the slug or snail.
After the snail or slug is eaten it gets digested and around three days later the lungworm larvae can escape into the dog’s abdomen. From here find their way through their new host's body to the lungs where they become mature larvae and the cycle repeats.
Crenosoma Vulpis Lifecycle
The life cycle of Crenosoma is similar except that the adult worms live in the airways rather than the blood vessels of the lungs, but the dog becomes infested by eating a slug or snail or their slime.
As much as 50% of foxes in the South East have been reported can also be affected by this parasite. With their growing numbers and ability to roam as much as 50km, they can spread it widely and this variety of lungworm is becoming more prevalent across the UK.
Where are Lungworm in the UK?
Lungworm was first reported in the UK in 1975 in a Greyhound over from Ireland. By the eighties it was becoming common in Cornwall and South Wales by the nineties. Post 2000 it has spread to London and the South East and now reports of lungworm in the Midlands, North of England and even Scotland reporting surges in lungworm.
A 2009 UK wide One study based on a survey of small animal practices, reported almost 1 in 5 having a confirmed case and almost a third knowing of a case locally and reports are that it has further spread since then.
There are two notable hot-spots for the French Heartworm variety where cases of lungworm are 4-5 times more than the UK average. These hot-spots are centred around South East England and Greater London and South Wales, centred on Swansea. London also boasts the highest population of urban foxes in the world and so is also home to more cases of Fox Lungworm too.
While the rising numbers of slugs and snails and foxe, there is also a theory that lungworm is spreading across the country on nursery plants distributed to garden centres around the country as the larvase can survive for two weeks or more on vegetation in mollusck slime. However the truth is that nobody currently knows why lungworm is spreading but it is and you should be aware.
What are Symptoms of Lungworm in Dogs?
Pet illness can be instantly identified since it is expected that owners will know their pets' habits quite well, from eating/toilet habits to physical or general everyday activity.Therefore, it is advised that owners do not wait for too long when considering treatment for your pet; simply book an appointment to your trusted vet to find out what is wrong with your dog, cat or other much loved pet.
This will identify potential serious problems early on and save pain and discomfort for your pet (or worse).In this article we will be discussing lungworm in dogs, something which is quite common among dogs of all breeds and across the whole wide world. Keep reading in order to be able to recognise the symptoms of lungworm in your own dog, so that you can instantly take him/her to the vets and get proper cure or treatment.
Recognising the condition can be quite easy once you have the right information regarding what the first symptoms are, and with this information you can even diagnose the condition yourself and indicate the possibility of lungworm in advance when contacting a vet. Read on to find out more about lungworm and possible treatement.
The infection called lungworm is caused by a parasite called Angiostrongylus vasorum. As mentioned it can be quite common for your dog to get it, and there is no need to worry. Approximately 25% of vets in the United Kingdom have diagnosed a pet with this condition, something which could potentially be fatal if left untreated. Therefore early treatement is important.
The most common way the infection is spread is by eating slugs, snails and similar. These can be quite easily gotten rid of with household cleaners (i.e. window cleaner) or simply with salt. If you are worried that your dog could catch lungworm, this is one way to prevent it.
The condition has become quite a threat to dogs in the UK, and that is why an awareness campaign was launched in order to inform pet owners about this potentially fatal condition. Taking your pet to the vet is important anyway, whether you notice some small changes in everyday habits or in the case of odd behaviour which could well indicate some serious illness.
As mentioned, slugs and snail carry the parasite necessary for the virus to spread. It could be perfectly accidental, for instance when snails sit on a bit of food or toy. Keeping a clean environment for our pets is essential, so checking their toys, food and water bowls can prevent a variety of infections and diseases.
The disease will also spread to other animals, like foxes, and since the population of foxes has increased and gradually spread throughout urban and sub-urban areas, the larger percentage in the disease being present in the UK is explained. Keeping foxes out of your garden can greatly reduce the risk of your dog catching the infection; this is achieved simply by removing any scraps of food, water bowls and similar things left in your garden.
The diseases is sometimes known as French Heartworm and can kill a dog, so make sure you learn how to spot the signs in the next paragraphs.
We all know our pets well, or should know them well in most cases, and it is important to constantly monitor them; in the case of dogs this is slightly easier since they aren't as independent as cats and spend most of their time in the vicinity of their owners.
The most common symptoms of lungworm are present in other illness, some less serious, so there is no need to instantly panic. The beginning of the article mentions that you can instruct your vet to check for lungworm in advance as long as you are aware of the symptoms.
If your dog appears listless, coughs constantly, appears depressed and seems to be losing weight then he or she must be taken to the vet. The infection can also commonly cause vomiting and profuse bleeding even for minor cuts and bruises. Your dog may have fits in the most severe and advanced cases, thought at this stage he should have already been taken to the vet; do not neglect your friends ever!
Lastly, don't forget to take the necessary precautions (all of which are indicated in this article). Particularly for puppies, but for any kind of dog; preventing can stop disaster so your dog can enjoy a long and healthy life.