Thousands of dogs purchased through the lockdown could be at risk from the deadly parasite lungworm spread by slugs, with many dog owners estimated to be walking unprotected pets, veterinarians warn.
Due to the humid weather across the UK in May, experts believe the snail and snail activity will explode, meaning dogs are at greater risk of contracting lungworms in the garden, on walks and even when drinking from water bowls or puddles to infect.
A survey by Elanco Animal Health shows that 42% of dog owners don’t know what lungworm is or how it can infect dogs.
Data from animal rights groups suggests there has been a recent spike in the number of people buying pets as they searched for company during lockdown.
But veterinarians are more concerned about the number of dogs that are inadequately protected.
The survey found that only 21% of the dog owners surveyed had given their dog lungworm prevention in the past month.
Dogs can become infected with the potentially deadly parasite from eating nudibranchs in the garden or on walks.
They can also ingest lungworms while they dig through underbrush, eat grass, drink from outdoor puddles or water bowls, or pick them up from their toys.
Dr. Bryony Tolhurst, behavioral ecologist at the University of Brighton, said, “Snail slime can contain the infectious lungworm parasite that can cause disease in dogs.
“Given the unusually humid weather the UK has experienced this year, nudibranchs and slugs are more active and lungworm larvae can survive in their mucus for up to two weeks, potentially exposing dogs to the parasite.”
Bailey, a five-month-old retriever puppy, was diagnosed with lungworm in May after being with his new family for just a few months.
They were not aware of the need to prevent lungworms.
Surrey-based Bailey owner Rachel Morris said, “We have waited many years for a puppy and the lockdown meant that it was actually possible. We had never heard of lungworms before.
“Bailey used to play in the garden and we had never seen him eat slugs or slugs before, but he liked to chew grass and unfortunately we now know that lungworms can even get away with licking a snail trail from grass, toys and or or Bowls left outside. “
Anne Nelson, the senior vet treating the puppy, said, “Behaved as Bailey on Friday the 14th.
“Bailey was sent back to us the next day when we diagnosed a lungworm and referred him to an essential care specialist.
“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, Bailey passed away the next day because the lungworm had become too severe for his body to recover.”
Veterinarians caution that the signs of lungworms aren’t always obvious, and puppies are particularly likely to eat snails due to their curious nature.
The infection is much easier to prevent than cure, experts say.
Elanco’s new campaign – Open Your Eyes to Deadly Lungworms – warns owners of the effects parasites can have on their dogs.
Join our brand new website Team dogs now.
When you get there do your brilliant first job sharing a picture of your dog on our Top Dogs feed.
When you’ve done that, you might want to leave a recommendation to help other dog owners in the TeamDogs community.
Luke Gamble, Veterinarian and Campaign Supporter, said, “I’m passionate about this campaign because so many dog owners are unaware of the dangers of lungworms.
“The most important thing to understand is that over-the-counter drugs cannot protect dogs from lungworms. It is therefore important that owners speak to their veterinarian to ensure that their dog is continuously protected. “
Lungworm is spreading in the UK year after year, 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.
:: The online survey was carried out by YouGov. The total sample was 2,003 adults, 535 of whom were dog owners, and the field research was conducted between June 2 and June 3, 2021.