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I promised I would let you know if the lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum appeared in this area. Well we now have had our first case in a dog confirmed by tests.

Now before anyone panics lets get some facts straight:

  1. It is an uncommon but emerging disease, first noted in the South West of England in the 1980’s. It has gradually been spreading North via the movement of infected dogs around the country depositing infected faeces that are not picked up by their owners, left on the ground so that slugs and snails in that new are become infected and can spread it to new dogs
  2. We only have one confirmed case that we know about
  3. Dogs become infected by eating  infected slugs or snails
  4. We have found no official proof that the slime trails  can cause an infection in dogs
  5. Dogs do not get it from eating other dogs/fox faeces. The immature worm in dog faeces has to be consumed by the slug or snail and mature into another stage inside the slug or snail to be able to infect dogs.
  6. Cats and humans do not get Angiostrongylus vasorum 

Signs to look out for in your dog (things you would normally be contacting your vet about anyway):

  1. Getting unusually tired during exercise or reluctant to exercise
  2. Unexpectedly ‘out of breath’
  3. Coughing
  4. Prolonged bleeding from minor wounds
  5. Any other signs of bleeding

The key is not to ignore it. As unlike other worms we normally see in this area this one can in the worst case scenario result in death if left untreated.
How do we prevent the spread of infection to other dogs:

  1. Stop your dog from eating slugs and snails (which is easier said than done!) but you can
  2. Remove toys from the garden that could hide small slugs your dog could accidentally eat when playing
  3. Keep outdoor water sources clean and slug free or out of reach of your dog
  4. Pick up your dogs faeces immediately when out on a walk or in the garden. Even in long grass, as slugs and snails can sill find it there and spread the disease
  5. Reduce the risk by treating your dog monthly with certain worming products. These products are prescription only medications so you will need to be registered with a vet to get them

The control of this disease is in the hands of you, the dog owner, so please be vigilant. Do all you can to prevent its spread and let us know if you suspect your dog is at risk, or want to reduce the risk, or your dog is ill.

Thank you,
Marslaidh Smith
Riverside Veterinary Clinic (Stirling and Callander)