Dog owners across Buckinghamshire have been warned to be on the lookout for a deadly infection called Lungworm, after a spate of infections across the county.
There have been several instances of Lungworm in dogs across Buckinghamshire recently, including cases in Chesham, Beaconsfield, Lane End and Totteridge.
Lungworm can be fatal to dogs, so it is important to spot any signs developing in your pets.
Lungworm (Angiostrongylus Vasorum) is an infection caused by the round worm parasite called Angiostrongylus Vasorum (AV).
Slugs and snails carry the lungworm larvae and dogs generally become infected when they play with and consume them.
They can also come into contact by eating grass, drinking from puddles, outdoor water bowls or toys that have been left outside in grass as the larvae can be left in the slugs and snails slime trail.
Nine percent of dogs infected by the condition will die, and vets have said the issue is becoming more common across the UK.
And the seasonal autumn weather, with darker evenings and mornings, mean dogs are more likely to come into contact with slugs, snails and even frogs, who can all pass on the deadly parasite to dogs.
Vets4Pets is now working with Bayer to help inform owners of the dangers of this deadly parasite.
Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Our research has discovered that awareness, and particularly knowledge, of the parasite lungworm is still pretty low amongst UK dog owners.
“It appears that many people still don’t fully understand how their dogs can contract it, what threats it poses and how important, and easy, prevention is.
“Most worryingly a third of those surveyed admitted they don’t currently give their dog any preventative treatment to protect their dog against lungworm.
“And when asked why they don’t, we found that the most common reason was apathy, or a lack of awareness, as 35% said they didn’t even know that lungworm was preventable.
“There are many simple steps owners can take to help prevent their dog contracting lungworm, but ensuring your dog is given lungworm preventative treatment prescribed by your vet monthly, is really the only way of keeping them completely safe and protected.
“The parasite was originally believed to be limited to southern regions, but research has revealed the parasite’s presence in north England, and even Scotland, which were not previously considered at risk, so this is something all UK dog owners need to be aware of.”
The symptoms of lung-worm include coughing, changes in breathing or struggling to breathe, going off food, upset stomach with diarrhoea, weight loss, tiredness, unexplained or excessive bruising, pale gums and bleeding.
To reduce the chances of your dog contracting lungworm, simple methods of dog hygiene should be carried out, such ensuring faeces is picked up and disposed of correctly and not leaving toys or bowls outside.
Obviously, it is harder to stop a dog drinking from puddles or eating slugs and snails if this is their nature, but a simple monthly spot on treatment can be used to treat and prevent lungworm.
Alternatively, if your dog will eat a tablet (try hiding in a small piece of meat or in their dog food) tablet versions also prevent lungworm if taken monthly.