Dog owners warned over increased risk from snail parasite

Dog owners warned over increased risk from snail parasite

Four in 10 owners unaware of deadly lungworm virus

Vets have warned owners of puppies bought during lockdown that without the right vaccinations they are putting their animals at risk from a deadly parasite.

Thousands of dogs could be in danger from lungworm, with a survey from Elanco Animal Health indicating that 42% of owners are not aware of what it is or how it can infect  their pets.

The parasite is spread by slugs and snails and because of damp weather in May, slug and snail activity could now explode putting dogs at even greater risk.

Elanco’s poll also revealed that only 21% of dog owners surveyed had given their dog a lungworm preventative treatment in the past month.

Dogs can be infected with the potentially fatal parasite when they eat common slugs and snails in their garden or on walks.

‘Speak to your vet’

They can also pick up lungworm while rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass or drinking from puddles.

Dr Bryony Tolhurst, a behavioural ecologist at the University of Brighton, said: “The slime of slugs and snails can contain the infective lungworm parasite that can cause disease in dogs.

“With the unusually damp weather the UK has been experiencing this year, slugs and snails are more active, and lungworm larvae can survive for up to two weeks in their slime, potentially exposing dogs to the parasite.”

Elanco’s new campaign – Open your eyes to deadly lungworm – warns owners of the effect parasite can have on their dogs.

Luke Gamble, veterinarian and campaign supporter, said: “I care passionately about this campaign because so many dog owners are unaware of the dangers of lungworm.

“The key thing is understanding that over-the-counter medications can’t protect dogs against lungworm, so it’s vital owners speak to their vet to make sure their dog is continuously protected.”

Lungworm has been spreading year on year within the UK, with 2,871 cases reported across the country, according to Elanco’s Lungworm Map, which pet owners can use to check how many cases of lungworm are in their area.

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