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Lungworm in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment reading-time-icon 2 min read

As a dog owner, the chances are you’ve heard of lungworm – but you may be less clued up on this pesky parasite than the more well-known roundworm and tapeworm.

So, what is lungworm, how do dogs contract it, and how do you spot the signs of lungworm in your dog? We have the answers.

What is lungworm?

Lungworm is a particularly nasty type of parasitic worm that can be serious – even fatal – if left untreated.
Unlike many other types of worms your dog is at risk of, lungworm isn’t passed from dog to dog. Instead, slugs and snails are hosts, passing on to unsuspecting pets, and infects dogs when they eat them while out walking or playing.

To help prevent your dog being infected by lungworm, avoid leaving toys outside when they’re not being played with, and keep water and food bowls inside.

How common is lungworm in dogs?

While relatively rare in the UK just a few years ago, lungworm is becoming increasingly common, with cases now reported all around the country – though the condition is still far more prevalent in the south of England.

What causes lungworm in dogs?

Unlike many other diseases, lungworm isn’t contagious. Instead, dogs catch lungworm by eating slugs and snails that are infected by the disease.

Of course, not every snail or slug is infected, so you don’t need to panic if you spot your dog eating one of these slimy critters – but if they regularly eat snails and slugs the risk of contracting lungworm is higher.

What are the symptoms of lungworm in dogs?

Identifying the signs and symptoms of lungworm in dogs

  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A persistent cough
  • Blood in the urine or faeces
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Nose bleeds

If you have any reason to believe your dog or puppy has lungworm, call your local vet without delay.

The technical bit…

Lungworm – or to give it the technical name, Angiostrongylus Vasorum – is a parasitic worm that lives in the heart and blood vessels of affected dogs, foxes and badgers.

“Regularly eating snails and slugs increases the risk of your dog contracting lungworm.”

How to treat lungworm in dogs

A good, regular worming routine is all part of being a responsible dog owner – and it’s vital to protect your dog or puppy from the dangers of contracting lungworm.  Your vet will be able to provide tailored advice on the best and most effective products that prevent and kill lungworm as well as the more common varieties of dog worms, such as tapeworm.

Need advice and information on lungworm in dogs?

For expert advice on recognising, preventing and treating lungworm in your dog, contact your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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