Ever since we got Monty back in 2014 I’ve felt quite passionate about talking about the not-so-Instagram-friendly side of having dogs. From how training them will probably have you in tears at some point. To picking up dog poop. To emergency trips to vets and unexpected bills. The whole ‘real’ side of having a dog that goes beyond the cute Instagram photos. This post is one of those things that’s pretty important but about as low-down the ‘cute’ scale as it comes.
This post is sponsored by Bayer
Oh yeah. I’m going there. Lungworm. Any sort of worm is to be avoided as far as I’m concerned; I’m not a fan of anything creepy-crawly (slithery?) like. When it comes to dogs, worms are very much not a good thing. Worms in general can cause all sorts of issues from appetite changes or stomach upsets or worse. A simple stomach upset might sound like no big deal, but trust me that dealing with a puppy poo-nami will have you thinking otherwise. Lungworm are a whole different can of worms (pun intended) that can actually go as far as being fatal with dogs. Have you ever seen the TV ad? I remember it making me cry the first time I saw it. If you have seen it and are a pet lover then you will understand. It’s a tear jerker. Because it makes you think of the worst case scenario with pets catching lungworm and not recovering. With the scariest thing being how fast a healthy dog can go downhill when they get lungworm.
As part of the Act Against Lungworm awareness campaign, Monty, Willow and I recently got to pay a little visit to a special walkies event with a whole host of other dogs – including many, many other sausage dogs. Plus, some other lovely waggy friends. We were there to spend some time with broadcaster and author Ben Fogle and Lungworm-expert vet Luke Gamble. The dogs were able tohave a play and run around like crazy things while we learnt about the causes, risks and symptoms of lungworm so we could help spread the word and raise awareness.
What is Lungworm and why is it dangerous?
Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is a parasite that can cause serious health problems in dogs and can even be fatal if not diagnosed and treated. The infection is most commonly transmitted by slugs and snails, or possibly even by the slime they leave behind. Dogs can become infected when they accidentally (or deliberately) eat these common garden pests, or ingest their slime whilst rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles, or outdoor water bowls, or picking up their toys. Lungworm is now endemic throughout much of the UK and Ireland.
The biggest thing I learnt on the dog walk was how ‘my dog doesn’t eat snails’ (some dogs eat snails, slugs, other animals’ poop… the list of gross dog behaviour goes on and on) is one of the things vets hear when it comes to lungworm. But it’s not as simple as that. A dog that loves toys? Those toys get left in the garden? They may very well be crawled over by a snail or slug overnight. They can remain on the toy in the morning or they leave that dodgy snail trail behind for your dog to pick up with its mouth next time it’s playing and BAM that’s how it’s passed on and potentially how your dog can pick up the deadly bug. Even if they just love to sniff around in gardens or when out and about, there’s always the risk a deadly snail has slithered its way along a twig or leaf or log that your dog might lick a little. Basically, there’s very little you can do to prevent your dog coming into contact with the same environment slugs and snails inhabit. So, the next best thing is preventative treatments that you can get prescribed from your vet.
Signs to watch for:
The symptoms of lungworm are one of the trickiest things to spot as they can often be mistaken for other illnesses. Lethargy, breathing problems, appetite changes, sickness and diarrhoea are all potential signs. As are wounds that take longer to heal or if your dog cuts itself and the blood doesn’t seem to clot as quickly. Blood testing or poo sampling are the most effective ways of checking if the parasite is present. Whilst Lungworm can be fatal, it can also be treated and cured – if caught in time. Which is why I wanted to take part in spreading the word. If you see any of these signs, then get your dog to the vet ASAP.
Speaking to your vet specifically to check if your regular worming treatment includes lungworm protection, and then ensuring you use it every month, which is vital for this worm, is the easiest way to do what you can to prevent it in the first place. Not all worming treatments cover lungworm, so specifically check for this. Then you can take some simple steps like bringing toys in – washing them regularly – and avoiding leaving food or water out in places where slimy things might make their way across them.
I can’t imagine what I would do if something happened to my two sausages – so any sort of prevention I can provide is something I will do. So hopefully this post might help let others with beloved furry friends prevent anything bad happening.
Visit www.lungworm.co.uk to find out more information about lungworm, or speak to your vet.
This post is sponsored by Bayer, in support of their ACT Against Lungworm campaign. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.