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Lungworm Prevalance Study- your help needed

Lungworm Prevalance Study- your help needed
0 15 September 2022

Lungworm is becoming an increasing problem in Ireland.  This is a potentially fatal disease, and can be tricky not only to diagnose, but to treat so we have always taken the approach that this is better to prevent than cure. We have therefore been recommending monthly worming treatment with the oral chew Milbemax, Milpro or Nexgard Spectra, or the spot on Prinovox.

 However there have not been any studies on the actual prevalence of lungworm in Ireland for many years, and so we have decided to conduct a study on the risk of lungworm to dogs in County Clare, supported and entirely funded by MSD and carried out by the veterinary laboratory at UCD.

What this consists of is obtaining a faecal sample from your dog in a plastic container which we will provide.

We are asking for faecal samples collected 6 weeks AFTER your worming treatment has been administered. We ask that this sample is brought into us within 24hours of collection

Here is some more information on lungworm below:

What is lungworm?

Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm that can infect dogs. Unlike other intestinal worms such as tapeworm and roundworm, adult lungworm travel around a dog’s body and can damage their lungs and other major organs – causing fatal consequences if left untreated.

What causes lungworm in dogs?

Lungworm larvae live in snails and slugs, as well as the faeces from infected dogs or foxes (which is where the slugs and snails pick it up from). 

When these are eaten, either intentionally or accidentally, the lungworm larvae are ingested into the dog’s digestive system. The larvae can also be picked up from snail and slug slime, so any dog toys or bowls left outside can pose a risk. Frogs can also become a host for the larvae.

Once a dog becomes infected, the larvae mature and move around the body, eventually ending up in and around the lungs. The adult lungworm then lay eggs which mature into more larvae which are subsequently coughed up, swallowed and exit the body via the dog’s faeces, thus starting the cycle again.

This cycle of infection means that lungworm can easily spread within dog communities, so prevention is key.

What are the symptoms of lungworm in dogs?

Lungworm can cause cardiac and respiratory diseases and can be fatal in severe cases. Many dogs won’t show signs of lungworm for some time, meaning it can go undiagnosed in many cases.

Symptoms of lungworm include:

  • excessive bleeding
  • unexplained or excessive bruising
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • weight loss
  • tiredness and depression
  • pale gums

How to treat lungworm

Diagnosing lungworm can be tricky; your vet will carry out a number of diagnostic tests, such as taking blood and faeces samples to see if any eggs or larvae are present. They may also conduct a chest x-ray or insert a tiny camera into your dog’s windpipe to find evidence of the parasite.

These tests will help your vet decide which course of treatment best suits the needs of your dog. Occasionally, lungworm can be killed off by changing your parasite prevention routine.

However, if there are signs of bleeding, blood transfusions and a stay in hospital may be required. There could also be a chance of permanent damage, so prevention is essential.

How to prevent lungworm

Prevention is better than treatment. Using effective lungworm prevention as part of your ongoing parasite treatment is the best way to protect your dog. 

Be extra-vigilant when out walking with your dog to stop them from eating slugs, snails and faeces. Always remember to pick up after your own dog and wash any toys and bowls that have been outside to reduce the risk of infection.

Puppies are renowned for eating anything they come across, you should be especially careful during spells of wet weather when slugs and snails are frequent garden visitors – always ensure your puppy is supervised and fully up to date with worming treatment

Click here  to read a 2017 report about recent studies into lungworm prevalence.


Posted in Uncategorized by Ennis Veterinary Clinic

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