It is a fact that parasitic lungworms are on the increase. It is only a matter of time before there will be incidences of positive worm counts in all counties of the UK.
There has been huge media coverage for Angiostrongylus vasorum this year. We have all seen the cute corgi sniffing the bone with the slug sitting on it. This parasite is however, not strictly a lungworm but is more accurately a heartworm. It is commonly known as French Heartworm (as it originated in France). It spread rapidly throughout Europe and crossed to our shores in the 1990s. It passes through the lungs certainly, but lives mainly in the right side of your dog’s heart. We here at Wormcount.com have seen several cases of this nasty parasite, mainly from the Dorset area.
We have also had positive worm counts for Oslerus osleri. This is the ‘true’ dog lungworm but is thankfully quite rare. It lives in little pouches in your dog’s windpipe causing your dog to cough and have difficulty in breathing. It can often be misdiagnosed as respiratory disease. Your dog catches it by sniffing or swallowing infected dog poo. Let’s not beat about the bush here – dogs eat other dogs’ poo!
But by far the most prolific lungworms we have seen have been the fox lungworm Crenosoma vulpis. This also lives in your dog’s windpipe, though not in nodules like Oslerus. It is passed on via poo from foxes that have eaten infected slugs and snails (a treat for a hungry fox). We know that our dogs love to roll in and sniff fox poo but it’s not just the smell that is offensive, now we know that it can be infested with parasitic worms too. It’s not only our country –living dogs who are at risk from fox lungworm. With urban foxes almost outnumbering cats in some of our town streets, no pet dog is safe from this parasitic worm.
The conventional method for prevention of lungworm is to use a spot-on such as Advocate every month, or to give a worming tablet every 2 – 3 months, such as Milbemax. If you choose to use Milbemax (and there are others available, call us for information) dogs living in high risk areas should be given the medicine monthly as a preventative. This will give your dog protection for the active period of the medicine. If you live in a high risk area (traditionally the South, Midlands and North West of England and West of Scotland but there are now incidences of positive cases in most counties), then you should consider worming as a prevention. However, for many dog owners this is simply not a viable option. Many dogs will not take wormers or will not keep them down once given. There is the cost implication (wormers are not cheap). But increasingly, owners simply do not want to fill their dogs with strong chemicals ‘just in case’. Herbal gut hygiene products such as DE and Verm-X are not as effective for lungworm as the worms only briefly transit through the gut before heading for the lungs and heart.
Whether you regularly worm or not you should consider including a worm count in your parasite control programme. This will either check that your worming method is working or, if you choose not to worm your dog, you will have peace of mind that your dog is not carrying a parasitic burden – or if he is, you can quickly start treatment. Up to now this has only been available through your Vet. Naturally this comes at a premium as your Vet has to charge for his time. We have heard of some parasite profiles costing as much as £80. You can now directly access the same laboratory faecal parasite tests as your Vet for a fraction of the cost. Click the link to order your low cost worm count kit now www.wormcount.com/order-now/