UK dogs affected by killer parasite, lungworm, has rocketed by more than 30 percent in just five years, according to the PDSA.
The parasite, spread by slugs and snails, can cause difficulty breathing, weight loss and can even be fatal.
And the vet charity today warned this could be just the tip of the iceberg as many cases of lungworm go unreported.
PDSA vet Vicki Larkham-Jones said: “There has been a significant increase in the number of confirmed cases of lungworm at our pet hospitals.
“In 2009 there were 49 confirmed cases and this had risen to 66 cases in 2014. However, the true figure is likely to be much higher, as not all infected animals can be positively diagnosed.”
Foxes can become infected with lungworm, and have been implicated in the spread of the parasite across the country. A recent study by University of Bristol scientists found that in some areas, up to 50 percent of foxes are infected with lungworm.
Frogs can also carry the lungworm larvae, presenting a risk to dogs.
For more information visit www.pdsa.org.uk