Almost a fifth of UK dog owners post images of their pet once a week. Nearly one in five have a social media channel dedicated to their pup, and the hashtag #dogsofinstagram attracts over 750k posts each day.
Bayer has dubbed this growing trend ‘social-petworking’ and created an Instagram profile for @DangerousSnail25 to raise awareness of the dangers of lungworm – a parasite, carried by slugs and snails, that can be fatal for dogs if not prevented.
Bayer chose Instagram as it is one of the most popular platforms used by pet owners – one in five of UK pet owners has an Instagram account and 29 percent of pet-owners follow other pet accounts.
Vet Luke Gamble, said “In @DangerousSnail25’s feed we wanted to show how easy it is for dogs to accidentally swallow slugs and snails when they play with toys, drink from puddles and water bowls left outside, or eat grass.
“Although over half of dog owners said their dogs do eat grass, only 11 percent were aware of the potential risk that this could pose to their dogs, and only half were aware that lungworm could be caught through eating slugs or snails.”
Once inside the dog’s system, the parasite travels through the body eventually ending up in the heart. If the infection is left untreated, the dog’s health can rapidly deteriorate, and can even result in death.
Evidence from the Royal Veterinary College confirms that the lungworm parasite has spread across the UK from its traditional habitat in the south of England and Wales. It’s now widespread in central England and has reached northern regions and Scotland, with one in five vet practices nationwide reporting at least one case of the parasite.
Luke adds, “Unlike other parasites, such as ticks and fleas, dogs may not initially show visible signs of a lungworm infection. We want to let dog owners know that preventative monthly-use products are available to stop the spread of lungworm.
“Not all worming products are effective against lungworm and monthly treatment is required for complete protection. Pet owners are advised to speak to their vet about preventative treatment against lungworm.”
Bayer is also working with celebrity explorer and dog-owner Ben Fogle to educate dog-owners on the hidden dangers in the nation’s gardens and favourite dog walks.
To help raise awareness of the parasite, dog owners and vets nationwide are supporting the national ‘Act Against Lungworm’ campaign. Encourage customers to find more information about lungworm and check the risk in their area by searching their postcode at www.lungworm.co.uk/map.