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Deadly disease hits parts the UK: here's how to keep your dog safe

Look out for early symptoms of lungworm
© Pixabay

Pet owners are being advised to take precautionary measures after a potentially deadly disease spread to parts of the UK.

By Ashley Murphy, 23 May 2019

Lungworm is caused by parasites found in slugs, snails and frogs. Symptoms include breathing difficulties, coughing up blood, and lethargy. It's a chronic condition that can last for years and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Prevention is better than cure

The disease is difficult to spot, so experts are trying to raise awareness and are advising owners to focus on prevention. One animal welfare specialist said:

"The best way to avoid lungworm is to make a monthly preventative treatment part of your dog’s regular anti-parasite routine, alongside worming and flea treatments. Speak to your vet about the most effective lungworm treatments available.”

Lungworm doesn't transmit from dog to dog. Instead, the parasite survives in animal faeces, as well as in larvae found in infected slugs, snails and frogs. It’s also present in water bowls used by infected dogs or small pools of still water, such as puddles.

An expert form  Vets4Pets told owners to keep a close eye on their pooches during walkies. They said:

"When you’re out and about with your pooch, always keep an eye out for slugs and snails and stop them from swallowing them or licking them or the area they’ve been in."

Dog lovers should take extra care when exercising their animals in more rural environments, where our pets are much more likely to come into contact with the parasite.

Many cases may go unreported

There have been some 3,000 reported cases of lungworm in the UK. However, because symptoms can take a while to manifest,  the actual number could be much higher.

If you suspect your dog has contracted lungworm, then consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. You can also check out this interactive map of the UK to see the most affected areas.