The origin of the canine lungworm infection
Canine lungworm infection or angiostrongylisis was first found in a greyhound in Ireland in 1968. The cause of the infection is a parasite called angiostrongylus vasorum, popularly referred to as canine lungworm.
It first started being reported with an increased frequency among dogs in the Southwest of England but has since spread throughout the UK.
The infection is spread to dogs from snails and slugs and their slime.
Snails and slugs get infected with the larvae from digesting faeces. Dogs then ingest the molluscs or come in contact with their slime traces when rummaging around in roughage, eating grass or drinking from puddles.
What are the symptoms of lungworm infection?
The symptoms are varied and often resemble the symptoms of other conditions. The infection is therefore not always obvious or easy to diagnose.
Symptoms may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Spontanious bleeding
- Poor appetite
- Bloody stools or urine
If you suspect your dog may have lungworm infection, seek veterinary help. The infection responds well to treatment but can be fatal if not caught in time. Most dogs make a full recovery provided they get treated on time.
Diagnosing lugworm infection can be difficult and usually requires an array of tests such as blood works, stool sample analysis and X-rays.
Can canine lungworm be prevented and how?
It is nearly impossible to discourage dogs from rummaging through ruffage and snacking on grass, but you can ensure that your dog gets regular deworming treatments.
While deworming for a number of parasites is done every three months, to prevent canine lungworm, deworming is recommended monthly. Speak to your vet about the right type of canine lungworm dewormer.
Make sure that any toys or water bowls kept outside the house are regularly cleaned and that there is no dog poo left in your outdoor areas.
What’s the treatment for canine lungworm and can it be cured?
The treatment for canine lungworm involves deworming that targets the angiostrongylus vasorum parasite that your vet can prescribe.
The exact treatment a dog with lungworm needs will depend on how severe the infection is, and whether it has caused further damages and conditions.
Treatment is most successful when administered early. Even though most dogs recover fully, the disease can be lethal if not caught on time.
What kind of dogs are susceptible to canine lungworm?
Dogs of all ages can become infected but younger, more energetic dogs tend to be more curious about the world around and therefore are more likely to explore. This puts them in more danger of coming in contact with infected slugs and snails or their slime.
Note that angiostrongylus vasorum is not transferred from dog to dog.
How common is canine lungworm infection?
Angiostrongylus vasorum lungworm infection is currently considered an ‘emerging’ disease. It used to be prevalent in south England and Wales but has been spreading and an increasing number of cases are now being reported in the whole of the UK.
Cases have recently been reported in Staffordshire, Nottingham, London, Plymouth and Lake District.
Vets issued a warning after a rescue dog nearly died in Ireland last month.
Other areas that have been affected are Salisbury, Wiltshire, Crawley and West Sussex.
You can find an interactive map that shows all the areas where lungworm disease has been reported on mypetandi.bayer.com.
Does Bought by Many pet insurance cover canine lungworm infection?
Canine lungworm isn’t always easy to spot and may take time and an array of tests to confirm.
Investigation and treatment may add up to accumulate a costly vet fee. It is therefore always good to have pet insurance.
All of Bought by Many’s policies will pay out to cover vet fees incurred as a result of investigation and treatment of angiostrongylus vasorum lungworm.