Vet's Clinic with Liam Moriarty
Thursday, 8 April 2010
Lungworm in pets is a relatively new problem which is increasing all the time and pets can die from it unless treated.
Vet Liam Moriarty
What is lungworm?
Lungworm is a life-threatening parasite carried by slugs and snails. If your dog comes in contact with these creatures he may be infected.
Dogs rummaging around in the garden or park may accidentally or on purpose ingest some of these creatures and acquire an infection. The larvae migrate through the dogs body and eventually end up in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs.
So what are the signs of infection?
This is one of the worrying things about this condition. The signs are very varied - they can include coughing and breathing difficulties but there are many other symptoms that you wouldn't expect from something called lungworm. These can range from bleeding disorders, tiredness, behaviour changes and even seizures.
The problem with these symptoms is they can occur with many other conditions so it is not always easy to diagnose. The earlier it is diagnosed the better the chances of a successful treatment.
What treatments are available?
There are different treatments available, in our practice we use a monthly spot -on treatment (a liquid you put on the dog's neck) to treat and prevent lungworm, however different vets may use other treatments.
What is very important for dog owners to know is that this parasite is potentially deadly and that normal worming tablets that you buy over the counter will not prevent this parasite developing.
Should dog owners use slug pellets in their garden?
NO! - Remember slug pellets are poisonous to dogs - the last thing we want is loads of dogs coming in to vets poisoned from slug pellets! Just be aware that slugs often crawl into food and water bowls or across dogs toys - and this could be enough to affect them. Also even if your dog doesn't deliberately eat slugs or snails, some of them are very small and they can pick them up in the grass accidentally.
Why is this problem getting worse?
We don't know for sure, but we think that warmer winters and wetter summers mean that there are more slugs and snails. Also pets are travelling more and so spread the infection.
Key points - this worm can kill your dog, there have been many deaths already. Regular worm tablets will not be effective!
For more pet information, check www.myvet.ie.