A Portsmouth veterinary practice has issued a warning following a fatal case of lungworm infection.
Staff at the surgery believe the husky, named Breeze, may have contracted the potentially deadly disease after ingesting water that had been infected by lungworm, a type of parasitic worm which lives in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs.
Breeze’s owner, Aimée Crockford had noticed a change in his normal behaviour as he seemed tired and wasn’t pulling on his lead as he often would when out for walks. He had also coughed up blood on one occasion.
Crockford took Breeze to Sanctuary Vets in Farlington where the veterinary team examined him and advised chest x-rays and a blood test, with results making them suspicious of lungworm.
Breeze was treated for lungworm with antibiotics in case of secondary infection. Unfortunately, the eight-year-old was unable to fight off the disease and died a few days later.
Veterinary surgeon Claire True, who treated Breeze, told Pet Gazette: “Generally dogs contract lungworm after eating slugs or snails that carry the larvae, however they can also come into contact by eating grass or drinking from puddles where the larvae has spread to.
“Sadly, it’s likely Breeze may have ingested the larvae when out on a walk and this would have developed in his lung area leading to the cough. His owner is understandably devastated to lose her beloved husky, but lungworm can go unnoticed for quite some time as the initial symptoms can be hidden.
“There are preventive medications that owners can get from their vets to try and reduce the risk of infection.”
While traditionally found in the south of England and Wales, lungworm is now reported to be endemic throughout much of the UK, with dogs of all ages and breeds at risk of infection.
Sanctuary Vets says prevention is the key, explaining that there are some simple measures that dog owners can take. The main one is to be aware of the threat of slugs, snails and frogs which can all carry the lungworm larvae.