Lungworm, caused by Angiostrongylus vasorum is becoming more common through-out the UK and particularly along the South Coast.

In affected dogs, clinical signs can range from a mild cough or vague lethargy to life threatening bleeding problems. Slugs and snails carry the larval stage of Angiostrongylus vasorum and a common misconception is that only dogs who eat slugs and snails are at risk.  In fact, all dogs that go outdoors are at risk as the larvae can be acquired from the trails of slime that these pests leave in their wake.  Therefore toys, dishes, water bowls, grass and sticks that your dog may chew or have contact with all pose a risk.  However clearly if your dog has a particular tendency to eat or play with slugs and snails then they will be at a particularly high risk.


A close up view of this deadly parasite!


Toys and chews left outdoors pose a risk


Once swallowed, the larvae migrate to the heart where they will develop into adult worms. The adult lungworms live in the heart and those blood vessels supplying the lungs. Here they lay their eggs, which hatch into larvae and migrate into the airways of the lungs. The dog then coughs them up, swallows the larvae, sheds them in the faeces, and the life cycle begins again.


Clinical signs of lungworm can be vague and variable – ranging from a cough or tiring more easily, to bruising easily, serious bleeding problems and even fitting/seizures.

Lungworm can be diagnosed by checking for the larvae in the faeces or by specialised blood tests. The treatment for dogs who are infected with a lungworm involves killing the parasites plus also treating the bleeding or other symptoms they may have.

Diagnosis and treatment can be challenging and, sadly, many dogs have died because of the parasite. The good news is that prevention is straight forward with spot-on or tablet medications, both of which are highly effective.  However it is important to be aware that only prescription medications from a vet practice are effective against  lungworm – routine wormers available off the shelf or from pet shops will not prevent lungworm so please have a chat to our staff who will be able to advise you on the best form of preventative treatment to protect your pets.

For more information, visit the main lungworm website –

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