Act on Lungworm Campaign - case study - courtesy of the Kennel Club.......

Despite a rise in owner awareness, 85 per cent of UK dogs remain unprotected against lungworm, which is a potentially fatal parasite. Dogs can become infected after accidentally swallowing slugs or snails carrying the lungworm larvae. Once inside the system, the parasite travels through the dog’s body eventually ending up in the heart. Left untreated, the dog’s health can rapidly deteriorate, and can even result in death.



There are several species of worm that can migrate to the lungs of animals, causing coughing and shortness of breath.  

Adult worms create nodules in the windpipe of the animal and lay eggs. The larvae that hatch cause reactions in the airways, leading to obstruction of breathing. Complications can lead to more serious problems such as shortness of breath (dyspnea), bronchitis, emphysema, fluid build-up in the lungs, and sometimes pneumonia.

Dogs become infected with lungworms when they drink water or eat prey infected with the larval stage of the worm. The larvae then migrate out of the intestines via the bloodstream to the lungs, where they develop into adult worms and lay eggs in the host's lungs. The eggs are then coughed up by the animal or passed in feces, which may then be eaten by birds, rodents, snails, or other pets.

Puppies may also become infected by their mother (dam) when they are licked by or ingest feces from the infected dog.

Tests to check if a dog has a lungworm infection including a, physical examination (lung auscultation) and history,chest X-rays, Fecal examination for eggs, complete blood count (CBC) and Examination of fluid from lungs (tracheal wash).

There is no licensed medical product to prevent lungworm, although keeping your dog's general worm control up to date may help. Avoid leaving food bowls, bones, chews and toys outside overnight as slugs are likely to visit these. Wash anything that appears to have been contaminated with slime trails.

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Only by the bite of an infected mosquito can give a dog heartworms. A Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states. And the bite of just one mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae will give your dog heartworm disease. Heartworm disease has not only spread throughout the United States, but it’s also now found in other areas ie: Oregon, California, Arizona, and desert areas where irrigation and building are allowing mosquitoes to survive. And if you have mosquitoes and you have animals, you’re going to have heartworms. It takes about seven months, once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length, can live 5-7 years, and a dog can have as many as 250 worms in its system.

Initially, there are no symptoms. But as more and more worms crowd the heart and lungs, most dogs will develop a cough. As it progresses, they won’t be able to exercise as much as before; they’ll become winded easier. With severe heartworm disease, we can hear abnormal lung sounds, dogs can pass out from the loss of blood to the brain, and they can retain fluids. Eventually, most dogs will die if the worms are not treated.

Heartworm is one of the most dangerous worms for your pet if travelling abroad. Signs can however take months to develop and may include:

  • weight loss/reduced appetite
  • becoming easily tired when exercised
  • excessive panting
  • difficulty breathing
  • weakness
  • death (if left untreated)

Although humans can contract heartworm, we are not ideal hosts, so the risk of developing serious illness as a result of exposure to this parasite is low.