Lungworms are worms that your dog can easily pick up by coming into contact with slugs or snails (carriers of Angiostrongylus Vasorum) when rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass or picking up toys which have been left outside.
Transmission to puppies has also been reported to occur through the bitch regurgitating food and then licking and cleaning her puppies.
What problems do lungworms cause?
The adult worm lives in the heart and major blood vessels supplying your dog’s lungs. Here they start laying eggs which will hatch into larvae and move through the body in the dog’s bloodstream towards their lungs. Larvae are coughed up, swallowed and once in the stomach they will pass through the digestive system and be passed in your dog’s faeces. It is most commonly a problem in younger dogs; it can persist in older animals but often with no clinical signs. Coughing, wheezing, retching, blood clotting problems and sometimes bringing up white froth are some of the symptoms.
This photo is taken from a post mortem we performed on a dog suffering from a heavy burden of lungworm.
The clinical signs mentioned are not specific for lungworm and it is important that you should consult your veterinary surgeon if your puppy or dog has a cough, as there are several other possibilities. Also secondary bacterial infections are common with lungworm and will require extra treatment.
If left untreated lungworm infection can often be fatal.
How do you control and prevent lungworm?
There is a ‘spot on’ product available from your veterinary surgeon which is effective in preventing and treating lungworm along with fleas, ear mites, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, heartworms, demodex and sarcoptic mange.