LUNGWORM & HEARTWORM
The life threatening lungworm Angiostrongylus vasortum is carried by slugs and snails. if your dog could swallow one of these common garden visitors, there is a risk it could become infected. Heartworm are a parasite that can be transmitted by mosquitoes who bite the dog and transfer the parasite into the bloodstream. Dogs usually only come into contact with mosquitoes during the warmer seasons, typically from April to September, where they are more reported cases of heartworm. A warmer climate and the greater freedom for our pets to travel throughout the UK and Europe have led the establishment of several diseases and parasites that were previously unknown in the UK. Lungworm is one such disease.
If you live in a moist climate, your dog is generally more susceptible to the disease. When the dog is infected with heartworms, they travel into the blood until they reach the heart cavity. There are several stages, and it is important to understand them as both types are rapidly on the increase. The problem is particularly rife in the south of England, partly as a result of dogs travelling abroad or coming to the UK. Not many veterinary practices have come across it, but as cases are increasing this could be due to global warming. The slugs and snails responsible have managed to cross the Channel from France. Foxes then ingest the creatures which, if infected, eventually cause migration of the larvae through the blood vessels to the lungs. The adult worms live in the heart and lungs which cause terrible problems. Lungworm is disease that is being treated increasingly regularly, cases used to be restricted to the south of England in counties such as Devon, Cornwall and Surrey. However, in recent years cases have been identified in the Midlands and even as far north as Scotland.
SIGNS ASSOCIATED WITH LUNGWORM INFECTION
Due to the way the worm invades the body, the majority of signs will be associated with damage to the heart, lungs and circulation.
The after effects can continue for a long time and it is vital to worm regularly. Panacur liquid is effective against lungworm (Panacur worming liquid 10% contains 100mg fenbendazole per ml for the treatment of adult cats and dogs infested with roundworm, tapeworm and lungworm and the treatment of weaned and unweaned puppies and kittens infected with roundworms and puppies infected with protozoa. Adult dogs and cats: 1ml per kg. Pregnant bitches: 0.5ml per 2 kg bodyweight daily from day 40 of pregnancy to 2 days post-whelping (approx. 25 days). Puppies and kittens under 6 months: 0.5ml per 1 kg bodyweight daily for 3 consecutive days), as is Stronghold (warning Stronghold must not be given to any of the Collie breeds) but worming may be required monthly as opposed to the recommended three monthly.
Lungworm infections can result in a number of different signs which may easily be confused with other illnesses. If your dog is displaying any of these signs, coughing, tiring easily, poor blood clotting, nose bleeds, general sickness, weight loss, diahroah, vomiting, changes in behaviour, and fits, consult your veterinary surgeon immediately.
Diagnosis of LungwormIt some cases it can be difficult to make an absolute diagnosis as the methods used to test for the lungworm infection do not detect every case.
We often test for the lungworm larvae in the faeces of dogs using a technique called the Baermanns test. As the larvae are only shed in the faeces intermittently, to achieve the best results faecal samples must be collected daily for 3 days and stored individually. If the dog is coughing we may take an x-ray of the chest to identify changes in the lungs and the heart, or we perform a “tracheal wash” to directly identify the parasite in the airways.
TreatmentIf caught early enough treatment is successful and any damage caused by the lungworms can often be reversed. However, with heavy infections or chronic cases the prognosis can be very poor. To treat a case of lungworm, we would usually prescribe Milbemax tablets once a week for four weeks, or Panacur once daily for seven days.
PreventionThere is no licensed medical product to prevent lungworm, although keeping your dog's general worm control up to date may help. Avoid leaving food bowls, bones, chews and toys outside overnight as slugs are likely to visit these. Wash anything that appears to have been contaminated with slime trails.
Vets occasionally see this form of heartworm in imported dogs arriving from affected areas. However this may become more of a problem as UK dogs travel on mainland Europe under the Pet Travel Scheme.
In the UK a different type of heartworm is already present. Up until quite recently the parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum (French heartworm) was thought to be limited to certain areas in Cornwall and Wales. Only one case had ever been reported in the south-east of England but that all changed at the end of 1999 and through 2000 as veterinary surgeons were presented with increasing number of these cases. Although most cases have occurred in dogs that are known to eat snails there have been cases where owners were unaware that their pets had this habit so do not think that just because you have never seen your pet eat a snail that they actually do not. It is suggested that the most likely way that this problem has been spread is by the fox population for which snails and slugs make up an important part of their diet. The foxes in turn pass on the parasite back to the slugs and snails in their stools.Angiostrongylus is a parasitic worm, the adult lives in the heart and arteries of the lung of the dog, fox and other animals that are affected by it. Your dog becomes infected by eating a slug or snail that harbours the immature form of the worm. Some dogs with a subclinical condition (one which does not manifest itself outwardly) may have a low-grade infection for months or years without showing signs. However the most common signs of infection are rapid breathing and cough (occasionally blood is brought up). In more severe cases some dogs are presented in heart failure or collapsed and others show signs of bleeding problems. There are many reasons why a dog may start coughing. However if your dog is known to eat snails then a veterinary examination is definitely a good idea. If your vet is uncertain of the cause of the cough they will probably recommend doing various tests to investigate the cause. This may include chest x-rays, blood tests, stool analysis and obtaining samples of mucus or fluid from the airways in the lungs. Obviously if you have seen your dog eating slugs or snails remember to mention this to your vet. If Angiostrongylus is identified early in the course of the infection anti-parasitic drugs can be used to treat it effectively. If complications have already occurred then treatment is less likely to be successful. Read more: Heartworms in Dogs & Cats | eHow.co.uk http://www.ehow.co.uk/about_6471630_heartworms-dogs-cats.html#ixzz0ubSTrE00