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18 cases of potentially deadly dog disease in Cornwall

18 cases of potentially deadly dog disease in Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:00am 21st September 2019. (Updated at 7:46am 21st September 2019)

A warning is going out to dog owners as it is revealed there have been 18 cases of a potentially deadly disease in Cornwall.

According to new research millions of people are unaware of lungworm, which is spreading across the country.

Lungworm is a parasite that can be deadly to dogs if ingested. 

It uses multiple animals to help complete its lifecycle, with dogs and foxes as the primary hosts, and slugs, snails and even frogs as the intermediate hosts.

Thousands of cases of the potentially fatal disease have been reported in an outbreak across the UK.

There have been 18 cases across Cornwall, from Penzance to Port Isaac, two just across the border in the Holsworthy area and five around Plymouth.

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

Vets4Pets, who carried out the research, is now working with Bayer to help inform owners of the dangers of this deadly parasite.

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
dog walk

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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