True to its name it is a worm, a roundworm. Dogs can become infected most commonly, by licking/eating slugs and snails.
The worm migrates to the lungs, sets up camp and lives in nodules there. Eggs and larvae are coughed up and then swallowed into the guts. They get deposited back onto the earth in the dog’s faeces and the cycle starts again.
Infections with no clinical signs do occur. Then the signs can range from a cough and an increased respiratory rate, with perhaps reduced energy, to severe respiratory distress and a threat to life. Lungworms can also cause a problem with a dog’s ability to make clots in their blood- a very important function required for everyday life inside the body.
Diagnosis is relatively straight forward and treatment similarly, although preventions is always better than cure.
Once a rare condition in the, Lungworm has been on the rise. Once more prevalent in the west country, it is now widespread across the UK, including East Anglia. Countryfile and similar wildlife organisations often produce and update Lungworm maps throughout the year.
All breeds of dogs can become infected and infection can happen reasonably quickly, a large Shrek-like appetite for snails is not needed! Wetter environments; near ponds, rivers and streams and wetter times of year lead to higher numbers of slug and snails so naturally cases may rise during these times.
There are now several preventative/treatment options available so do chat to us about what may suit your pet the best.