Vets issue dog lungworm warning

DOG owners in the Dispatch district are urged to be on the lookout for symptoms of a potentially deadly infection in their much-loved pets.

Veterinary surgeon Clare Vitale, of Vets4Pets off Hucknall Lane, Bulwell, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the effects of lungworm.

Dogs can become infected with the parasite after eating common garden-slugs and snails carrying the larvae. Once inside the dog’s system, the parasite travels through the body, eventually ending up in the heart. If the infection is left untreated, the dog’s health can rapidly deteriorate, often resulting in death.

Surveys have shown that 84% of dog owners are unaware of lungworm infestation symptoms, which range from breathing difficulties to lack of energy and coughing. But 36% of vets’ practices have reported at least one case in the last year.

Clare said: “Once seen as a problem in isolated areas, lungworm has spread in the UK.

“While dog owners are becoming more aware of lungworm, there is still a real lack of understanding about all the warning signs associated with the condition.

“Affected dogs may also show general signs of being unwell, including weight loss, reduced appetite and vomiting. Persistent bleeding, even from minor cuts, is also a sign to watch out for.

“However symptoms can vary and some dogs may appear healthy in the early stages of infection, so if owners are concerned, they should contact their veterinary practice for further advice.”

Treatment is available from vets’ surgeries.