Lungworm is a parasite that can infect dogs and foxes.
The symptoms of lungworm may include:
- Breathing problems.
- Reluctance to exercise.
- If a dog gets a minor injury, like a small cut, it might bleed for longer.
- Abnormal blood clotting.
Dogs get lungworm by eating larvae found in infected snails, slugs or frogs. The larvae grow inside the dog and when they become adult lungworms, they move through the dog to live in their heart or blood vessels supplying the lungs. This can cause heart problems, breathing problems, pneumonia and can be fatal. In mild cases infection can remain unnoticed by owners. After about 28 days the worms start to produce their own larvae, often leading to serious problems. It can cause haemorrhages in areas of the body such as the lungs, liver, intestine, eyes and spinal cord.
Foxes and dogs that become infected with the lungworm can spread the parasite across the country. Dogs can spread the parasite when the larvae is expelled in their stools. Slugs and snails then pick up the larvae from the stools and infect other dogs.
Talk to your vet or pet professional about regular lungworm prevention treatments. If you spot slugs and snails in your garden or local parks, then be extra vigilant when out with your dog and always consult your vet if your dog becomes unwell.
You will be pleased to learn that lungworm is not known to infect humans.