The Dangers of Lungworm, written by Companion Care Vets. This article was published in a recent issue of Yattar Yatter a magazine circulating in Shropshire.

Most dog owners have heard of Lungworm but do we really know what it is all about? Is it really that big a deal? Lungworm [Angoistrongylus Vasorum] is potentially deadly and can go undetected until it is too late to treat. However, Lungworm is easily prevented and treated if caught early. Lungworm infections can result in a number of different clinical signs including: seizures, depression, lethargy, general sickness, coughing, vomiting, excessive bleeding, nose bleeds and anaemia amongst other signs. The adult Lungworms live in the heart and major blood vessels supplying the lungs.

It used to only exist in Wales and the south of the country but it is steadily spreading further north. It is carried by slugs and snails and dogs can contract it by eating these creatures, either intentionally or by accident, It is easy for a dogs t accidentily ingest a slug or snail from outdoor water bowls, toys, grass eating and drinking from puddles.

You should speak to yur vet about products that are applied monthly to prevent an infection of Lungworm, as regular worming products will not prevent or treat Lungworm. It also helps to reduce the risk of Lungworm by picking up your dogs toys at the end of each day from your garden and storing them in a snail proof container to prevent snails crawling over them and hiding in crevices. Outdoor water bowls should be changed regularly as slugs like to crawl in them. Pick up dog faeces from your garden so as to reduce contamination by slugs and the further spread of lungworm.

Should you or your vet be concerned that your dog may have contracted Lungworm then there is a simple blood test available that will give you a result within 15 minutes of the sample being taken.

Lungworm is potentially fatal and just because you cannot see it does not mean it is not there. Please do not put your dogs at risk as prevention is far better than cure! Contact your vets as soon as possible. For more information g to

[Collienet note: Having suffered Lungworm with one of our bitches, coughing was our first sign. Blood test and faeces determined it was lungworm and for a collie Panacur 20% suspension every day for 5 or 7 days [look on label] cleared it up...


Heartworm is a major parasite of dogs in many parts of the world and causes serious health problems in unprotected animals. In Europe the 'common' form of heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is prevalent in areas around the Mediterranean and is spread by mosquitoes.

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 |