A DONCASTER vet is warning dog owners of increasing reports in the diagnosis of a potentially fatal disease.
Rebecca Aldren, from the Vets4Pets surgery on Wentworth Road, Wheatley, is alerting owners to an infection caused by the lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum.
Dogs become infected with the lungworm through contact with and eating slugs and snails, which can carry the larvae of the parasite.
Vets say that while some dogs will eat slugs and snails on purpose, the hidden danger arises from small slugs and snails which can be accidentally swallowed when dogs are playing with toys left out in the garden, or rummaging through the undergrowth.
Ms Aldren said: “Once seen as a problem in isolated areas, lungworm has spread in the UK.
“Although dogs can become infected with Angiostrongylus vasorum at any time of year, the warm and damp conditions associated with the spring and autumn months do provide ideal breeding conditions for slugs and snails, thereby potentially increasing the risk of infection.”
Any owner who is concerned that their dog is at risk of the condition, or is worried their dog may have already picked up the parasite should talk to their local vet, she said.
She added: “Dogs which have picked up a lungworm infection can show a number of different symptoms.
“This lungworm often gives rise to breathing difficulties, ranging from a lack of energy to coughing.
“Dogs may also show general signs of being unwell including weight loss, reduced appetite and vomiting.
“Persistent bleeding, even from minor cuts is also a sign to watch out for.
“However, the symptoms can be varied and some dogs may appear healthy in the early stages of infection.”