What is lungworm?
Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm, called Angiostrongylus Vasorum, that can affect dogs. As an adult worm it lives in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs in dogs and foxes. The symptoms you may see in your dog are due to where the worm chooses to live its adult life. As a juvenile worm they complete their life cycles in slugs and snails.
Lungworm is being reported more and more currently and cases have been documented in all areas of the UK and there are several “hot spots” for Lungworm here in the South.
How do dogs get lungworm?
Lungworm cannot be passed from dog to dog. The worm needs slug and snail hosts in order to grow and develop and it is from eating these that infection may occur.
How big a problem is lungworm?
Lungworm infection is still relatively uncommon in many areas but is rearing its ugly head from time to time. Infection can, in extreme cases, cause death of infected patients so it is potentially very serious and yet easily treated.
Not every snail or slug carries the worm and it is much more common in southern parts of Britain than the rest of the UK. However, if your pet regularly eats snails and/or slugs then there is a risk for them being able to pick up this worm at some point.
It is advisable to ask us about the most common parasites in your area that may affect your pets or even your family and how best to reduce the risk.
What are the symptoms of lungworm?
For the most part after infection, the worm causes progressively worsening signs of cardiac and respiratory disease. This could be seen as things such as a chronic cough, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing and weight loss. Initially symptoms are only seen at ‘extremes’ of exercise, gradually becoming more obvious as the disease progresses. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health, please speak to us.
How is lungworm diagnosed?
An absolute diagnosis of lungworm is often difficult as it relies on finding evidence of worms in either the trachea or faeces of your pet. And sadly, not finding the worms does not mean your dog is not infected. In general diagnosing lungworm infection is based on the history, compatible clinical signs and response to treatment.
How do I prevent/treat lungworm?
Killing the worm is relatively simple, and just requires a change in your normal parasite routine and potentially a change of product to one which also controls lungworm. It does not require invasive or costly treatment when caught early. The more advanced the symptoms/level of infection the more significant the permanent damage is likely to be.
It is because it is so simple and easy to treat that we would recommend adding in treatment for lungworm into your normal worming routine. If you’re are unsure how ‘at risk’ your dog is likely to be it is best to have a chat with us and we will know how common this problem is in your area and recommend the most appropriate plan for you and your pet.
For more information about lungworm, go to
If you are concerned at all, please call in and see us and we will be happy to guide you if you are worried that your dog may be at risk