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Killer disease threat to North Mymms dogs

Six cases reported - 10% of severely infected dogs die

Image by Christine Majul released under Creative Commons BY 2.0
Image by Christine Majul released under Creative Commons BY 2.0

Dog owners are being warned about an increase in reported cases of lungworm, a potentially deadly disease which is spreading through Hertfordshire. The parasitic worm infects the heart and the blood vessels in the lungs of dogs and can be fatal.

There have been 1,533 reported cases within a 50-mile radius of Brookmans Park.

According to the website My Pet And I, run by the pharmaceutical company Bayer, dogs become infected with the parasite by eating slugs, snails or frogs, which can carry the lungworm larvae.

The site has an interactive map which shows reported cases, including six in North Mymms. Image of the map below. To access the map visit the Bayer site.

Screen grab of interactive map on the Bayer site
Screen grab of interactive map on the Bayer site
The disease can be transmitted if the dog eats anything infected with the parasite, but can also be passed on to dogs simply by drinking from puddles where slugs have been, eating grass where there are slug trails, and even by sniffing around infected areas.

The slime trails of slugs can also be infected. Dog owners are encouraged to look for signs on outdoor water and food bowls and on any toys chewed by dogs.

Dog faeces is also a risk factor because the parasite can survive in dog mess.

The symptoms for lungworm include coughing, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhoea, although a dog can be infected for some time before the signs of the disease start to show.

Vets can diagnose lungworm by examining a dog’s faeces. An infected dog can be treated following early diagnosis.

All dogs are at risk of lungworm, but those that are prone to eating slugs and snails, and dogs that are likely to eat anything outside, are particularly susceptible to the disease, as are younger, more inquisitive or playful dogs.

My Pet And I has advice for dog owners on steps they can take to reduce the risk for their pets, including:

  • Stopping your dog eating slugs and snails
  • Not leaving dog bowls and toys outdoors overnight
  • Cleaning dog bowls regularly if they are used outdoors
  • Cleaning up after your dog

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