The number of UK dogs affected by killer parasite, lungworm, is increasing rapidly, and prevention is the best course of action, according to The Vet.
Lungworm, which is spread by slugs and snails, can cause difficulty breathing, weight loss and can even be fatal.
Foxes can become infected with lungworm, and have been implicated in the increase of the parasite across the country. In a new study by University of Bristol scientists found that 18.3% of the UK fox population is affected by lungworm – up from 7.3% in 2008.
The Vet warns this could be just the tip of the iceberg, as many cases of lungworm go unreported, as the parasite continues its spread across the UK.
The same study indicates that while eight years ago, cases were concentrated in the South of England and Wales, the parasite has increasingly been found in Central and Northern areas of the UK. During the same period, prevalence of the parasite has more than doubled in the South East to 50.8%.
Frogs can also carry the lungworm larvae, presenting a risk to dogs.
Clinical Director Jessica Podmore DVM Cert SAS MRCVS at The Vet Nottingham said: “Symptoms of lungworm infection to look out for include bleeding around eyes or nose, red spots on gums and coughing.
“We strongly urge dog owners to give their pets the monthly flea treatment Advocate, which protects against the potentially fatal parasite. In this case, prevention really is better than a cure.”
The Vet has seen a steadily increasing number of affected dogs being brought in for treatment.
One such dog a Terrier cross contracted the potentially fatal parasite, which dogs become infected with after eating slugs and snails. Luckily she survived, but the infection caused internal bleeding.
The Bayer ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the parasite, and how lungworm can be prevented. The campaign raises awareness to dog owners that the quarterly treatment applications cannot prevent lungworm, monthly administration is needed.
The Vet is a revolutionary new type of veterinary clinic. Currently with six practices in the UK (Bristol, Morden, Nottingham, Waltham Forest, Liverpool, Southampton), The Vet provides low cost veterinary treatment without compromising on quality. Uniquely, it also offers a walk-in no appointment service for consultations; a convenience, which is ideally suited to today’s busy lifestyles.