LOWDOWN Summer 2009 page 16
sinister-sounding condition, canine lungworm, is reported to
becoming more prevalent in recent years, especially here in the South East
of England. As such, it is wise to be alert to our hounds presenting the
symptoms of this distressing and, sometimes, life-threatening disease.
Angiostrongylus Vascorum is a parasite that infects the lungs, heart and airways of the hound. Puppies and young dogs are particularly susceptible, because of their natural inquisitiveness. The parasite is spread by slugs, snails and, sometimes, frogs found in our gardens. Faeces of the predators of these creatures, like birds and foxes, can also lead to its transmission.
To become infected, a dog has to eat infected larvae present within these creatures - in the case of snails and slugs; this could even be their slime trail. Also, outside water bowls, which may have been visited by these little devils, could harbour the larvae.
Once digested, worms
then develop from the larvae and grow within the respiratory organs and
airways and even arteries inside the heart.
Symptoms caused by lungworm can be confused with other illnesses. But, they can include:
Breathing difficulties or coughing and/or getting very easily tired.
Excessive bleeding from minor traumas bleeds into the eye, and anaemia (shown by pale pink gums and haws).
Loss of appetite, weight-loss, vomiting, diarrhoea, and fitting.
Your vet should be able
to determine if any of these symptoms are caused by lungworm.
Treatment is an easy spot-on chemical, such as Bayer’s Advocate, which is applied monthly and, if caught early enough, a complete recovery is perfectly possible.
These days, there are a
great number of these health alerts to be concerned about. I think that we
need to take a balanced approached to how serious we regard them. But, it
certainly is useful to be armed with the knowledge of these hazards.
For my own part, I might rethink leaving a water bowl outside in the garden for my boys - and start washing my hands after lobbing my snails into the neighbour’s garden.
(Ed: I am indebted to Jean Humphrey for providing the information used in this article).