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Fatal "lungworm" putting dogs at risk across Surrey and Hampshire

3 minute read
Fatal "lungworm" putting dogs at risk across Surrey and Hampshire

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 5:25pm 9th May 2019.

Vets are issuing a warning to dog owners in Surrey and Hampshire as it's feared  potentially fatal dog disease, lungworm, is spreading across the UK. 

lungworm map shows over 100 confirmed cases across our two counties, particularly in the Guildford area. 

The south-east is a thought to be a hotspot region for cases. 

In January this year, 9.1% of slugs sampled from six sites in Guildford also tested positive for lungworm.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets said:

"The urbanisation of foxes in more and more areas across the UK means that even walking a dog only in a city or town cannot protect them from coming into contact with the parasite, and it is worrying to see the prevalence is as high as 75% in areas like London.”

What is lungworm?

The official name for lungworm is Angiostrongylus vasorum; it’s a type of parasitic worm which affects the heart and blood vessels of the lungs of animals such as dogs, badgers and foxes. 

Lungworm infections can be fatal but thankfully lungworm treatment for dogs is available from your vet and you should find it useful to be aware of the risks.

Dogs and foxes are the primary host, whilst slugs, snails and even frogs are the intermediate hosts.

What are the signs of a lungworm infection in dogs?

It can be difficult to tell if your dog has lungworm as some symptoms, such as weight loss and a cough, can be easily confused with other conditions.

Some possible signs to look out for in infected dogs include:

  • breathing difficulties and coughing, especially bringing up blood
  • poor appetite and weight loss
  • changes in behaviour and lethargy
  • poor blood clotting/persistent bleeding e.g. blood in urine, vomiting blood and blood spots on the gums

Lungworm is a chronic disease, which can last for months and even years and it can occasionally cause sudden death. If you spot any of the above signs, take your dog to the vet immediately.

How can I prevent lungworm in the first place?

The best way to avoid lungworm is to make a monthly preventative treatment part of your dog’s regular anti-parasite routine, alongside worming and flea treatments. Speak to your vet about the most effective lungworm treatments available.

Your vet should be able to tell you how many cases of lungworm they see in your area and suggest an appropriate plan if your dog is at high risk.

When you’re out and about with your pooch, always keep an eye out for slugs and snails and stop them from swallowing them or licking them or the area they’ve been in.

Remember, lungworm infections can reoccur even after treatment, so continuous prevention is essential to safeguard your dog’s health.

Found out if your area has lungworm.


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