Once a rare condition in the UK, reported cases of Lungworm and resulting fatalities are on the rise. It’s important therefore that pet owners are aware of the signs and symptoms and take steps wherever possible to prevent an infection.
What Is Lungworm?
Lungworm is an infection caused by the roundworm parasite. Slugs and snails carry the lungworm larvae and pets can become infected when they play with or consume them. Eating grass, drinking from puddles and outdoor water bowls or playing with toys that have been left outside in the grass can also cause exposure as the larvae can remain in the slime trail left by slugs and snails. Frogs can also act as hosts to the parasite
Does It Affect Dogs or Cats?
Lungworm can affect both cats and dogs but cat lungworm and dog lungworm are not the same parasite and feline lungworm is usually less severe than its canine counterpart.
Feline lungworm can be found in the lung tissues, unlike the dog lungworm which actually lives mainly in the heart. Like the canine version, interaction with slugs and snails can mean exposure to the parasite but it also lives inside birds and small mammals such as mice. This means that cats are at risk of picking up feline lungworm when they hunt.
Foxes can also carry lungworm and the parasite can be present in their faeces.
How Do I Know If My Pet Has Lungworm?
Many dogs won’t initially show symptoms and it therefore may go unnoticed for some time but these are some signs to watch out for:
- A cough or breathing problems
- Tiring easily/lethargy
- Nosebleeds/excessive bleeding from minor cuts or wounds
- Vomiting where blood is present
- Loss of appetite
Most cats show few or no signs however in animals that do, especially young kittens, lungworm can be fatal. The most common signs of cat lungworm infection are:
- Changes in breathing or struggling to breathe
- Discharge from the nose
- Development of pneumonia
- Going off food
How Can I Prevent My Pet From Getting Lungworm?
- Use a preventative medication; often a simple spot on treatment works well. This medication is available from your vet and is included in our Pet Healthcare Plus Plan.
- Owners can also try to restrict their dogs from accessing areas where there are likely to be slugs and snails.
- Avoid leaving dog toys out in the garden where they may be exposed to slug and snail trails.
- Ensure outdoor water bowls are thoroughly cleaned and topped up regularly.
If you suspect your pet may have lungworm, to purchase preventative treatment or for any other concerns you may have regarding your pet, please contact us.
St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799