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220609 Recent Lungworm case in Hayle | Lungworm increasing threat to Cats and Dogs

Following a recent case in Hayle of Lungworm

Angiostrongylus vasorum has been found with increasing frequency in the UK and across Europe, posing a growing threat to domestic dogs. Previously, A. vasorum was regarded as confined to small pockets in West Cornwall (Truro area) and South Wales (Swansea area). However, by 2000 reports suggested that it had become established in south-east England. It has since been recorded in dogs in the Midlands and as far north as Glasgow, so that now it is perceived as a potential threat to domestic dogs throughout the UK mainland.

Control involves avoiding ingestion and/or use of anthelmintics. Owners should try to prevent their dog eating slugs, but using poisons to eradicate slugs from gardens is not recommended. Indeed, molluscicides may make dogs more likely to ingest slugs, as dead slugs are more likely to be found in the open than live ones (and such products can be dangerous to other garden residents).

Pet owners can check if there are cases of lungworm in their local area via the interactive map.




Feline lungworm Aelurostrongylus abstrusus is present in the UK cat population and can potentially cause significant health problems.

Feline lungworm is a neglected disease, but it is certainly present. Like its equivalent in dogs, infection of cats with Aelurostrongylus abstrusus is a potentially serious health problem in feline medicine. It is a cause of pneumonia, sometimes fatal, affecting all ages but particularly kittens and immunocompromised and old cats.

Cats with heavy infection develop chronic cough, wheezing, sneezing and mucopurulent discharge, with progressive dyspnoea, anorexia and emaciation. Gross lung lesions are grey nodules scattered across the lung surface, sometimes in clusters. Histopathology shows severe pulmonary inflammation.

Lungworm in your cat




The most common symptoms of lungworm infection are:

  • Coughing
  • Changes in breathing or struggling to breathe
  • Going off food
  • Upset tummy with vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Loss of weight
  • Tiredness and depression
  • Unexplained or excessive bruising
  • Pale gums
  • Bleeding

Sadly, dogs with severe lungworm infections can become very ill in fact, 9% of infected dogs will die.

"Lungworm is spread when the parasite's larvae are produced inside a dog or fox and passed through their faeces, which are eaten by slugs, snails or frogs who then become infected with the parasite," explained Dr Stacey.

"Unlike other diseases, lungworm can't be passed from dog to dog, but instead if a dog accidentally eats an infected slug or snail, or comes into contact with their slime, they can contract the disease.

"And the risk of dogs coming into contact with these infected molluscs is high, as it is believed that the average British garden contains over 20,000 slugs and snails, and the larvae which are released in the slime can survive for at least 15 days.

"That's why, as well as using preventative treatment, it is crucial owners don't leave their dog's toys or water bowls outside overnight, or let them pick up sticks in the park, as these could all have been exposed to slug or snail slime.

"Common signs of lungworm include coughing and breathing problems, but also weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, tiredness, blood clotting or excessive bleeding from small wounds and changes in behaviour," continued Dr Stacey.

"However, in many cases, a dog doesn't display any clear signs of the disease for quite some time, or if they do, the signs can present very differently in each dog. Signs like coughing and breathing difficulties can even often be confused with conditions like kennel cough.

"This means lungworm can sometimes be hard to diagnose, so it is vital that owners are aware of the risks, protect their pet from the parasite and visit their vets if they have any concerns."

Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets

How can you stop lungworm?

    • Regular worming treatments. Worming treatments usually come in the form of tablets or spot-ons, and may manage a range of parasites including lungworms. The best parasite protocol for your dog will depend on you, your dog, your lifestyle and even the season, and your vet can help you decide which regime works best for you. However you choose to manage worms in your dog, make sure to speak to a vet about the best anti-parasitic on offer, as many over the counter treatments have poor efficacy.
    • Picking up your dog’s faeces quickly. This will help prevent the spread of lungworm.
    • Removing toys and bowls from the garden overnight so they are not exposed to slugs and snails.
    • Changing the water in water bowls frequently.

You can find more information and advice about lungworm here.



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