Follow us on:
follow us on facebook follow us on twitter

Parasitic Lungworm In Dogs

share this page:
Lungworm from snails in dogs feeding bowls
Photo: snail on a dogs food bowl

What is Lungworm? 
Lungworm is a parasite carried by slugs and snails.  It can be dangerous and potentially fatal to dogs if not diagnosed early on or left untreated.  As the name suggest, Lungworm affects the respiratory system by living in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs. Lungworm can not be spread to humans but it can be carried and spread by foxes.

How does a dog get infected with Lungworm?
Slugs and Snails are particularly prevalent when the weather is warmish and damp. Dogs of any age can get Lungworm by either accidentally or purposefully eating slugs and snails, through eating grass or drinking from puddles, ponds and lakes.  Slugs and snails are also attracted to outdoor drinking and feeding bowls and can be on toys that may be left outside.

Puppies are more at risk as they are curious and inquisitive and more likely to pick up a slug or snail. Dogs that are infected with the lungworm parasite can spread the disease to other dogs through their the faeces.

What are the symptoms of Lungworm?
The symptoms of Lungworm are breathing difficulties which include coughing, weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and tiring easily.  As these symptoms are common in many illnesses that dogs may get, lungworm can be difficult to diagnose but if you dog is displaying any of these symptoms you should immediately visit your vet.  Generally to diagnose lungworm the vet will need to take faecal samples.

How to treat and prevent Lungworm
Treatment is available and if caught early can be as simple as applying Spot-On.  If the case is more severe the dog may require more aggressive treatment.

Prevention where possible is always best :  so always keep your eye on puppies when they are in an outside  environment.  Check your dogs feeding/water bowls and toys regularly.  Do not allow your dog to drink from puddles, ponds, streams or eat grasses.  Be especially vigilant when the weather is wet and warm when you see slugs and snails in the outdoor environment.

If you suspect your dog may have lungworm then you should immediately visit your vet. Be aware that most of the conventional worming preventative tablets generally given every 3 months, do not protect your dog from lungworm.