Act on Lungworm Campaign - case study - courtesy of the Kennel Club.......

Despite a rise in owner awareness, 85 per cent of UK dogs remain unprotected against lungworm, which is a potentially fatal parasite. Dogs can become infected after accidentally swallowing slugs or snails carrying the lungworm larvae. Once inside the system, the parasite travels through the dog’s body eventually ending up in the heart. Left untreated, the dog’s health can rapidly deteriorate, and can even result in death.


A readers story HERE

There are several species of worm that can migrate to the lungs of animals, causing coughing and shortness of breath.  

Adult worms create nodules in the windpipe of the animal and lay eggs. The larvae that hatch cause reactions in the airways, leading to obstruction of breathing. Complications can lead to more serious problems such as shortness of breath (dyspnea), bronchitis, emphysema, fluid build-up in the lungs, and sometimes pneumonia.

Dogs become infected with lungworms when they drink water or eat prey infected with the larval stage of the worm. The larvae then migrate out of the intestines via the bloodstream to the lungs, where they develop into adult worms and lay eggs in the host's lungs. The eggs are then coughed up by the animal or passed in feces, which may then be eaten by birds, rodents, snails, or other pets.

Puppies may also become infected by their mother (dam) when they are licked by or ingest feces from the infected dog.

Tests to check if a dog has a lungworm infection including a, physical examination (lung auscultation) and history,chest X-rays, Fecal examination for eggs, complete blood count (CBC) and Examination of fluid from lungs (tracheal wash).

There is no licensed medical product to prevent lungworm, although keeping your dog's general worm control up to date may help. Avoid leaving food bowls, bones, chews and toys outside overnight as slugs are likely to visit these. Wash anything that appears to have been contaminated with slime trails.

see links below for more information


Only by the bite of an infected mosquito can give a dog heartworms. A Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states. And the bite of just one mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae will give your dog heartworm disease. Heartworm disease has not only spread throughout the United States, but it’s also now found in other areas ie: Oregon, California, Arizona, and desert areas where irrigation and building are allowing mosquitoes to survive. And if you have mosquitoes and you have animals, you’re going to have heartworms. It takes about seven months, once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length, can live 5-7 years, and a dog can have as many as 250 worms in its system.

Initially, there are no symptoms. But as more and more worms crowd the heart and lungs, most dogs will develop a cough. As it progresses, they won’t be able to exercise as much as before; they’ll become winded easier. With severe heartworm disease, we can hear abnormal lung sounds, dogs can pass out from the loss of blood to the brain, and they can retain fluids. Eventually, most dogs will die if the worms are not treated.

Heartworm is one of the most dangerous worms for your pet if travelling abroad. Signs can however take months to develop and may include:

  • weight loss/reduced appetite
  • becoming easily tired when exercised
  • excessive panting
  • difficulty breathing
  • weakness
  • death (if left untreated)

Although humans can contract heartworm, we are not ideal hosts, so the risk of developing serious illness as a result of exposure to this parasite is low.


Last week Fred started coughing very occasionally - wasn’t too worried, mostly when having a drink of water it wasn’t continuous and he was fine in himself - over the next day the cough hadn’t improved so I started to wonder had he got kennel cough as the cough very much resembled that type of cough but as he has not been in contact with any other dogs (due to Covid - me not going off premises) so thought this highly unlikely, so to be on the safe side made an appointment with the vet for the following day.

By the following day things had changed, his breathing had become very laboured, and the cough worse (as the vet is at the moment one in one out wasn’t worried about passing anything on).

I had also arranged to have routine bloods done as he is due to have a tooth extracted so wanted to make certain everything was functioning normally.

The vet checked him over agreeing his breathing was very laboured and heart was beating quite rapidly, his temperature was also raised - at this point I seriously thought I had a dog with Covid.

As he had a temperature the vet gave an antibiotic injection to tide us over until bloods came back. I took Fred home unfortunately overnight his breathing and the cough worsened he would also not eat and was very lethargic, another visit to the vet bloods were back and all were okay - the cardiac bloods would be another couple of days I was now seriously worried we had cardiac problems.

Fred continued to deteriorate with breathing really laboured, I kept the vet informed he suggested we tried worming him as sometimes worms can migrate and cause problems ( I have to point out I regularly worm my dogs) the vet also said that he had requested a lung worm test on Fred’s blood but pointed out that in 20 years of the practice being open they had never had a positive test.

The vets receptionist phoned that night to inform me that the test for lung worm was positive and could I collect treatment (wormer for 10 days). Fred did not improve so was then put on antibiotics - in case of secondary infections and steroids to see if we could get him to eat, his cardiac bloods were all normal which surprised all of us as breathing was laboured. I am pleased to say he is improving slowly day by day.

I have written this to remind us all that lung worm can be very serious and is so easily contracted (infected snails and slugs) my dogs don’t eat slugs but if an infected slug leaves a trail and your dog walks through it and licks feet it is that easy to contract. There are preventative treatments for this available from vet and I believe wormers are also available (the one I use doesn’t cover lung worm).

I just want to remind everyone that this problem is now on the increase and can be life threatening so please please check you flea treatments and wormers and if this prevents one less owner going through what we experienced I will be pleased I have written this.

Sue Phipps
Oakanmoor Rough Collies