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Lungworm in Dogs: Understanding the Risks and Prevention

Dog suffering from lungworm

Lungworm, a term that dog owners are increasingly becoming aware of, is a type of parasitic infection. While not a new concern, the awareness of lungworm has grown, and understanding how to protect your dog from this parasite is crucial.

This blog aims to provide comprehensive information about lungworm, and how to prevent this potentially serious condition.

What is Lungworm?

Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm that primarily affects the respiratory system of animals. In the UK, the most common type of lungworm in dogs is caused by the parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum. This parasite can cause significant health issues and, in severe cases, can be fatal if not treated promptly. 

How Do Dogs Get Lungworm?

Dogs can contract lungworm in various ways, but the most common route is through eating slugs and snails which carry the lungworm larvae. This includes the tiny slugs that can end up in outdoor water bowls, or toys that are left outside. This can happen accidentally while dogs are playing outside and exploring.

Symptoms of Lungworm in Dogs

The symptoms of lungworm can vary but often include:

  • Coughing and breathing difficulties

  • Changes in appetite

  • Weight loss

  • General lethargy or tiredness

  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it is essential to consult with your vet as soon as possible.

Diagnosing Lungworm

If lungworm is suspected, your vet will likely recommend diagnostic tests. These may include faecal examinations, blood tests, or imaging studies like X-rays. Early diagnosis is key to effective treatment and recovery.

Treatment for Lungworm

Treatment for lungworm typically involves the administration of specific anti-parasitic medications. The course of treatment may vary depending on the severity of the infection. In severe cases, supportive care like oxygen therapy or blood transfusions may be necessary.

Preventing Lungworm in Your Dog

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to lungworm. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Regular use of preventative treatments: Speak with your vet about preventative treatments for lungworm in dogs.

  • Reducing exposure: Try to reduce your pet’s contact with slugs and snails, especially in known high-risk areas.


Lungworm is a serious condition that can have severe consequences for your dog if left untreated. Being aware of the risks, symptoms, and prevention strategies is crucial in protecting your beloved furry friends. 

Always consult with your vet for the best advice and treatment options for lungworm in dogs.


Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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