Despite a rise in owner awareness, 85 per cent of UK dogs remain unprotected against lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) a potentially fatal parasite, a new survey reveals.
The research, which questioned 1,000 dog owners, found that 80 per cent were aware of the deadly parasite, with more than five per cent having encountered lungworm in their own dogs. However, only 15 per cent treat their pet against parasites on a monthly basis, with the remainder admitting to missing routine lungworm worming treatments or not treating at all. Dog owners are urging others to take action and fight the parasite to prevent unnecessary deaths.
Evidence from the Royal Veterinary College confirms 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 reaching northern regions and Scotland, with one in five vet practices nationwide reporting at least one case of the parasite.
A recent survey suggests that lungworm, A. vasorum, is now endemic throughout much of the UK. In a survey of 150 veterinary practices across the UK a total of 952 suspected cases were reported (157 laboratory confirmed), with 81 deaths thought to have been caused by the parasite.
To remind dog owners to treat their pets, Bayer Animal Health is launching a new campaign ‘ACT on Lungworm’, kicking off with the UK’s first 24-hour radio station for dogs and their owners, ‘Hound Waves’, broadcasting live from Crufts on March 7.
Caroline Braidwood, group product manager at Bayer Animal Health said: “Last year we received lots of feedback from owners who had tragically lost their pets to lungworm, and whilst we were pleased that we were helping to raise awareness, we became conscious that we needed to do more to prevent dogs from dying unnecessarily. Our 2014 campaign focus has come as a direct result of talking to these owners and providing individuals like Sandra Stevens with a platform to discuss their experiences in the hope that more owners will take action before it is too late.”