Lungworm warning: Deadly and hideous parasite killing dogs also infecting cats

Lungworm: Dr Scott discusses parasite

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Vets are ramping up warnings about lungworm as more and more dogs are dying from the totally preventable lungworm parasite, which is picked up from slugs and snails. Now an expert has warned cats are also at risk.

This Morning’s resident vet Doctor Scott Vet Scott appeared on the ITV programme to make the dire warning.

He told presenters Dermott and Alison our feline friends can catch the parasite too.

Dr Scott said: “Cats have a different species, but absolutely [they can get lungworm].

“They don’t present to us as vets as often because I think they are just a little bit more discerning about what they eat, so they’re less likely to pick up a parasite but absolutely they are exposed to it and a lot of the prescription-only mediation that we use in cats as preventives for other parasites do have an action for lungworm.”

However, an infestation could still be fatal.

The vet warned owners should pick up their dog’s toys and clean outside bowls to prevent the parasite.

“Lungworm is a parasite that looks unbelievable hideous. It is spread by slugs and snails,” he explained.

“They will either be consumed by your dog or they’ll happily run across a water bowl or even a toy.

“Your dog will then pick it up and they ingest the third-stage larvae.

“That then penetrates the gut, goes into the lymph nodes, into the bloodstream, develops in the heart itself, then becomes an adult lays eggs, those eggs then hatch, breakthrough to the lung, causing a massive inflammatory reaction.

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“And all of this life cycle occurs within just one month.

“Then you see a dog that is coughing, it’s really quite unwell, then they cough up this particular worm, they then swallow it again, they poo it out and it’s ready to infect yet another population of slugs.

“It is a really nasty condition and one that is rapidly spreading across the UK.”

Dr Scott claimed it is “frightening” how few owners know about lungworm.

“It’s something completely preventable,” the vet went on. “If you’re speaking to your vet you can get either topical treatment or a chewable tablet, which are given on a monthly basis because they have a monthly life cycle, so you’ve got to treat it monthly.”

What are the signs and symptoms of lungworm in dogs?

Dr Scott said: “Initially your dog will have really subtle symptoms, so lethargy, depression. And then you might start seeing more significant symptoms.

“They might have fatigue, maybe they start to cough, some clotting problems. they might have spontaneous bruising.”

How to prevent lungworm

Vets4Pets suggest:

  • Make sure you’re up to date and on top of regular worming treatments. Speak to your vet avoid the best treatment for your dog.
  • Pick up your dog’s poop quickly on walks to prevent the spread.
  • Bring your dog’s toys and bowls inside at night so they aren’t exposed to slugs or snails.
  • Change water in drinking bowls regularly.

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