'Killer worm' cases rise across UK
Thursday, 7 April 2011 12:17
Animal Health experts are warning to dog owners to learn the tell-tale signs of lungworm this week as it arises that cases are increasing at an alarming rate in the UK.
Lungworm is a potentially fatal parasite that affects dogs, contracted after eating common garden slugs and snails carrying the larvae.
Vets have reported an increase in the number of confirmed cases; 37% of vets in 2010 have diagnosed at least one case, compared to just 16% of vets in 2008.
Once only an isolated problem, the spread of lungworm shows a serious problem for dog owners who cannot recognise the signs of a lungworm infection. The Be Lungworm Aware campaign hopes to raise awareness and teach dog owners exactly what to look out for.
An infected dog may have breathing difficulties, be lethargic and start to cough. Other signs include weight loss, fits, reduced appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, paralysis and persistent bleeding from minor cuts. A combination of any or all of these can also be signs for other illnesses, so you will need to be vigilant when letting your pet outside where it can be exposed to the larvae, and register any symptoms before checking with your vet.
Lungworm poses a real risk to dogs, but if caught early enough it can be treated easily. Newest advances in veterinary medicine mean that the worm may even be prevented.
If you are in any doubt about symptoms your dog is displaying, or have concerns that your dog may have contracted the parasite, consult your vet immediately.