Lungworm warning

Meet Archie.

This little man recently battled a very serious illness called lungworm and at the young age of only 6 months.

Archie was brought to see our vet Orlaith with a slight cough which developed over a week to him coughing up blood.

His owners and the Animal Care Hospital staff were incredibly worried about Archie. Tests including chest X-rays were performed and a blood test confirmed Archie had a parasite called lungworm attacking his lungs.

Luckily for Archie he was started on treatment promptly but it really gave us all a scare because lungworm has not been diagnosed in dogs in Cork very often.

X ray of dogs ribcage with lungworm
This is the X-ray that helped us diagnose lungworm

The specialists have told us it is being found in the wild fox population so it was only a matter of time before domestic dogs were going to be at risk.

Lung worm is spread by snails and slugs that carry the parasite. Dogs of all ages and breeds can become infected, but younger dogs seem to be more prone to picking up lungworm.

Dogs who are known to eat slugs and snails are also considered at high risk, but remember slugs and snails can be tiny and you may have no idea that your dog has eaten one.

Where does lungworm live in my dog?
When a dog eats an infected slug or snail the lungworm larvae are released into the dog’s intestines. From there the larvae burrow through the gut wall and make their way towards the heart, where they develop into adult worms and reproduce.

Lungworm eggs are carried in the bloodstream to the lungs, where they hatch into new larvae that burrow through the lung tissue. These larvae are coughed up by the dog, swallowed and then pass out in the dog’s poo, ready to infect more slugs and snails to continue the cycle.

What risks does lungworm pose?
Lungworm can cause a range of symptoms that can often initially be confused with other illnesses. Breathing problems including a cough are common signs, but not all dogs with lungworm will cough, so you can’t rule it out just because your dog hasn’t got a cough.

Other potentially serious symptoms include abnormal bleeding and neurological problems, as well as more general signs like lethargy, depression, vomiting and diarrhoea. Of course, all of these symptoms can be caused by other diseases as well, which can make diagnosis tricky. The parasite can be fatal if left untreated, so it’s important to get your dog checked over by a vet if you have any concerns.

Only a certain number of worming products target this particular parasite so please keep up to date with your parasite treatments and call us if you have any questions or concerns.

Luckily for Archie after a few days of hospitalisation he was fit to return home and was back to his active bouncy self!

If you are keen to find out more about lungworm, this website provides lots of information on the disease  Please share with any dog owners you know in Cork so they can be aware of this and ensure they have their parasite treatments up to date.

 

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