Warning as dog contracts ‘rare’ disease from slugs and snails

A vet has issued a warning to dog owners after a Wirral family almost lost their beloved pet to a rare and deadly disease linked to slugs and snails.

Vet Dylan Payne, of Acorn Veterinary Centre in West Kirby, is part of the team helping eight year old black Labrador Boo recover from lungworm which is linked to parasites found in garden slugs and snails. Ingested, the parasites make their way to a dog’s heart and lungs which can prove fatal.

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With very few reported cases of lungworm in the north west, Payne is now urging all dog owners to be aware of the symptoms of the disease and to consider a preventative approach through regular worming. He said lungworm is usually found in the south of England but it is thought that with weather becoming warmer in the north, more incidents of lungworm have been found.

Payne said: “Typical symptoms of the infection in dogs include coughing, loss of appetite, losing weight and becoming generally unwell. Fortunately, lungworm is a preventable disease and prevention really is the best approach.

“The best thing to do is to talk to your vet about methods to protect your dog through regular worming and if you are concerned in anyway about your dog’s health, do get them checked out.”

Boo’s owner, Mike Cockburn, 51, from West Kirby, believes she may have picked the condition up by eating windfall apples which she is known to scavenge while out on a walk. Cockburn, who is a senior manager with Wirral Borough Council, said the first he really knew there was a problem was when he took Boo to Acorn Veterinary Centre after she started to rapidly lose weight.

The team at Acorn organised for her to have a full scan and noticed what they thought was a spot on her lung and referred her to specialists at Leahurst Veterinary Hospital for more tests.

Cockburn said: “It is so important to stay up-to-date with your dog’s regular worming as prevention is better than trying to cure. We were worming Boo regularly but I would definitely urge dog owners to speak to their vets about all the worming options which are available to guard against this awful disease.”

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