EMERGENCY NUMBER 01937 228780

Lungworm Advice

Fortunately, lungworm is not especially common in this area at the moment, so we do not see cases frequently. However, if contracted, in some situations it can be fatal.

We have had several clients contact us recently asking about this after reports in the press.

Fortunately, lungworm is not especially common in this area at the moment, so we do not see cases frequently. However, if contracted, in some situations it can be fatal.

HOW DO THEY GET IT?

The parasite is transmitted via snails, slugs and sometimes frogs! Some dogs actively seek these out and eat them but many will ingest them accidentally when eating grass or perhaps chewing on toys in the garden. Younger dogs seem to make up the majority of cases (although any age can be affected) – possibly reflecting their inquisitive nature.

When a dog is infected the adult worms live and reproduce in the heart and blood vessels of the lung. They lay eggs which hatch to larvae, which are then coughed up and swallowed. They pass through the dog’s digestive tract and out in its faeces. Slugs and snails are infected by ingesting (eating) the larvae which have contaminated the environment. These creatures are then consumed by a dog (or fox, which can act as a reservoir for the parasite) and the cycle begins again.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?

They can be very variable and vague. Some dogs develop signs of coughing, reduced exercise tolerance or breathlessness. These signs are associated with the presence of the worms in the heart and large blood vessels and the damage done to the lungs as the larvae work their way out. Some dogs, however, do not show these signs but develop even more worrying problems. The presence of lungworm can lead to poor blood clotting, which means that these unfortunate dogs sometimes present with bleeding problems. Neurological (nervous) signs such as seizures (fits) and back pain can also be seen.

WHAT CAN I DO?

As ever, prevention is better than cure. Although the risk is low, if your dog spends a lot of time rummaging in the grass or you know they will actively eat slugs/snails/frogs then we recommend monthly worming to reduce the chances of becoming infected. Unfortunately, not all routine worming treatments are effective against lungworm. For example, one of the most common wormers, Drontal, is ineffective against lungworm. Please contact us for advice about the most effective options.


Apart from regular medication, other tips for reducing the risk of your dog becoming infected include cleaning toys which have been left out and keeping them inside; not leaving food or water bowls outside, or if this is necessary then cleaning them daily. Please note that you are unlikely to significantly reduce the slug and snail population in your garden by using excessive quantities of slug bait. Slug pellets, which contain metaldehyde, are extremely toxic to dogs and should be used with extreme care – if at all – when pets or children are around

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Sandbeck Veterinary Centre
Unit 8, Erivan Park
Sandbeck Way
Sandbeck Industrial Estate
Wetherby
LS22 7DN

t: 01937 228780
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