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Dog Lungworm - Case Studies

Sunday, 1 April 2018  | 

dog lungworm case studiesLungworm is a potentially fatal disease that is passed to dogs by slugs and snails carrying the larvae of the parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum.

Recent indications that lungworm is spreading across the UK means it is now a nationwide threat to dogs.

A lot has been done in recent years to raise awareness of this deadly disease. In particular the 'Be Lungworm Aware' campaign has massively improved awareness. This article has a wealth of useful information about lungworm symptoms and preventative measures - Be Lungworm Aware

All of this information is fantastic but we thought it would be useful to actually hear from people whose dogs have been infected. Rather than being alarmist, I am hoping we can all learn a bit more about lungworm from case studies of dog owners who have actually experienced it.

D for Dog were contacted recently by the BBC, who were looking for a case study of a lungworm survivor. Two lovely ladies came forward with their dog’s stories. We asked Juliet and Veronica if they would share their experiences with us.

Here are their lungworm case studies. Thank you ladies and woofs to Radar and Ribbons.

Juliet and Radar

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
At the time that Radar was diagnosed with Lungworm (March 2008) we were living in Swanage, Dorset.  Radar was 10 months old.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
We had never heard of Lungworm & the only reason it was suspected was because the on-call vet we took Radar to when he collapsed had recently read a paper about it and tentatively suggested that Lungworm was Radar’s problem and immediately sent off some faeces for examination. The vet specialists in Winchester had never seen a case at that time and, initially (i.e. until the wormcount analysis came through), were highly skeptical!

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
We can only think that Radar contracted it through eating snails or possibly through rolling in fox poo and then cleaning himself. When he was a pup rolling in fox poo was a favourite occupation!

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Radar’s problems started about 3 weeks before his hospitalization when he managed to cut his gum which then wouldn’t stop bleeding – ultimately it had to be cauterized. This was closed followed by him getting some horrendous bruising and swelling between his front legs – he had knocked himself when coming out of his crate! Our local vet obviously realized that Radar had a clotting problem and suspected Von Willebrand disease – we were waiting for the blood test results when, in the early hours of Easter Sunday he collapsed and went into shock – his whole body was shutting down. This was the scariest thing we’d ever seen and we really thought we’d lost him.

The on-call vet put Radar on a saline drip to try to stabilize him and kept him in the surgery all day. Unfortunately things got worse during the evening and we were referred to vet specialists in Winchester – that’s one midnight drive we never want to experience again! Once in hospital Radar was given more saline, plasma and Vitamin K (to help his blood clot) plus pain relief in the form of tramadol and fentanyl patches. An x-ray and ultrasound scan showed that he’d had bleeds into this stomach, spleen and lungs plus his eyes were swollen and the whites bright red.

At this stage it was just a case of trying to stabilize him until the results from the samples had been received and a definitive diagnosis could be made. Obviously Radar remained in the hospital throughout all this – we visited him all the time (we couldn’t keep away – I’m sure they got really fed up with seeing us!)… it was so sad – he looked like a little old man – he didn’t move much (he could hardly walk) and he was even weeing in his crate which he’d never done even as a tiny pup. He wasn’t really eating anything either (very unusual for Radar as he’s always loved his food) – we would hand feed him minute amounts. Although we still didn’t have a definitive diagnosis (apart from an obvious clotting issue), on the following Thursday we were allowed to bring him home for the weekend – looking back, I think that the vet specialist was giving us a chance to say goodbye!

However, the home visit finished in the early hours of Saturday morning when he had a massive seizure. This resulted in yet another race to another emergency vet who gave him diazepam and who wondered if he had had a cranial bleed – I can’t even begin to describe how we were feeling. Then it was another dash to get him back to Winchester – a thorough examination followed and, although the diagnosis of Lungworm had not been confirmed, the vet specialist said that Radar hadn’t had a bleed but that, possibly, a larva had made its way into his brain – hence the seizure. We left Radar at the hospital again then, two hours later, we had really good news (which may sound like a funny thing to say!) that the faecal results were back and that Radar definitely had Lungworm and that the vet would immediately start aggressive treatment. You won’t believe how relieved we were that something could be done to help him… that he had a problem that could be treated!

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
From the time of Radar’s bleeding gum to the actual diagnosis was appropriately 4 weeks.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
The treatment was steroids, Vitamin K, high dose Panacur and antibiotics.

What was the recovery process?
We went to see Radar on the Saturday evening after the diagnosis – the transformation was amazing – instead of being “the little old man”, he ran out to meet us wagging his tail madly… like new again… well almost!

Is your dog OK now?
Unfortunately Radar has been left with secondary epilepsy due to the larva that made its way into his brain. His seizures are kept to a minimum with Epiphen and Potassium Bromide. We keep a supply of rectal diazepam and Keppra which we give him if he does seizure. He’s also recently been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism which, apparently effects 70% of epileptic dogs taking Epiphen and potassium bromide – this is now controlled by Radar taking Thyroxin. Apart from this he is absolutely fine – he loves swimming, running, doing agility, playing with the grandchildren… in fact he just loves life.

Have you taken any new precautions?
It may seem bizarre but I absolutely refuse to give him any drugs apart from the ones he needs to keep seizure free – he doesn’t need any other toxins in his body! Hence, I do not worm him but get his poo tested two monthly by Wormcount.com – to date no worms of any description. I am a bit paranoid about foxes, slugs & snails though!

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Be vigilant – puppies naturally want to explore their world so a nice crunchy snail might be “interesting” for them. I would also recommend cleaning fox poo off immediately if the dog is a “roller”. However, my main advice would be to get dog’s poo wormcounted on a regular basis and if they suspect anything is wrong to see their vet immediately.

Veronica and Ribbons

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
I live in Essex, and my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was 8 months old when she became very sick.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
I did, but in 37 years of breeding had only known one breeders dogs affected… and her ‘dog management’ plus conditions the dogs were kept in was very poor, which clouded my judgment on the cause of her infestation of lungworm.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Ribbons was a typical healthy puppy who loved to play in the garden and ‘graze’ on grass. I feel she must have ingested blades of grass covered with a ‘snail slime trail’.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Ribbons always had a healthy appetite, but refused her evening meal. I thought she might be a bit ‘hormonal’ because at 8 months it was possible she was about to start her first Season.  My plan was to offer food the next morning, and if she refused again I would get my Vet to check her over… just to be safe.  The next morning she was in a coma... barely breathing, limp, and dying... so I rushed her to the vet hospital where she was immediately admitted.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
About 6 hours in total. She had never coughed, was (I thought) fully wormed, so this wasn’t the first point of action at the vets.  She had blood drawn, had an ultrasound, and an x-ray… at which point we knew her lungs were severely compromised, but didn’t know why.  A specific test in the afternoon showed fully developed worms feeding in her lungs and trachea.

Ribbons was completely unresponsive and given a very poor prognosis. We were warned she had less than a 25% chance of surviving, and we said our ‘goodbyes’ before leaving her in the hands of her carers in the vet hospital.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
The fear was that if the fully developed lungworms died in numbers, the toxins they emit at point of death could put the host animal (my Ribbons) into anaphylactic shock, which could in turn kill her. She was on multiple intravenous drugs to combat infection etc, but the specific attack on these deadly parasites was a daily dose of ’Panacur Suspension’ for a period of two weeks, then ‘Advocate’ when she appeared to be a little more stable.

What was the recovery process?
Intensive nursing round the clock for 4 weeks.  Her respiration, breathing in general, and exercise intolerance was severely affected for a further 3 months.  

Is your dog OK now?
Thankfully, yes.  Ribbons is now a very healthy 17 month old Cavalier, enjoying life to the full.

Have you taken any new precautions?
Absolutely. Every Cavalier in my home from the very young to the very elderly almost 18 year old are now  treated monthly with ‘Advocate’.  This treatment is additional to the quarterly worming with ‘Drontal Plus’ which has been my routine wormer of choice for many years.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Whether your dog roams the woods, fields, parks, or even just your own garden, the real threat of your beloved companion succumbing to Lungworm infestation is much more likely now than ever before.  Even the vast population of Urban Foxes in our towns can be a ‘host’ to the larvae and eggs that can cause so much damage, even the death of our dogs if they are not protected against killer Lungworm. There are only two wormers licensed to prevent the ‘Angiostrongylus Vasorum’ parasites from maturing into harmful adults inside our pets, so please discuss preventative treatment with your Vet for the sake of your beloved companion. As a very experienced dog owner I almost lost a very beautiful puppy through mistakenly thinking my dogs were fully protected... they weren’t, but they certainly are now.

Anita and Poppi

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Live in Essex. Poppi was 11 months old.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
Had heard about it but not enough for me to worry and was ignorant to the fact that the wormer she was on did not cover lung worm.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Licking snail, slug slime or could have mistakenly ate one when eating grass.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Her joints were aching after a walk, took her to the vets where she has an anti-inflammatory injection, 3 days after she was unable to hold her tail up and could not go to the toilet. We took her to the emergency vet when later that day she was laying on my lap and just wet herself without moving.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
We had results the next day which showed she had lung worm which had caused internal bleeding.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
Advocate, vitamin K, antibiotics, panache, painkillers, steroid injections, mestinon.

What was the recovery process?
Initial treatment, advocate, panacur, vitamin k injection, after a few days she gained control of her bladder but not her bowel we had to go to our vet for her to be vacuated on a daily basis. She then had a course of 2 steroid injections to reduce swelling on her spine also now on antibiotics and painkillers. On day 10 vet suggested we try mestinon a human drug to help her nerve endings which would help the bowel movement. The next day she did manage to produce something on her own although it was a struggle and took ages, there was improvement after a few more days, however the mestinon side effects are causing her to urinate more often.

Is your dog OK now?
No, we are on day 19 now she is still on mestinon to help her bowel movement and she is unable to wag her tail, although she is eating well and her energy levels have increased. We have been told that recovery will be up to 6 months and even then she may not gain movement in her tail or complete bowel function.

Have you taken any new precautions?
 

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Make sure any worming, de-fleaing precaution protects against lung worm, i.e. advocate, panacur.

Yolanda and Rolo

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Crawley, West Sussex, 11 months old.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
I had never heard of it. I found out today that worming products do not kill these worms either - only the veterinary product Advocate and the Procur mentioned above. I was raised with dogs, in the 70's dogs were fit and healthy, I had a garden full of snails and slugs and my dogs were fine. Today my beautiful girl is in veterinary hospital from a worm associated with slugs snails and foxes. I had no idea they were a danger.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
I have cats, they aren't mad on the tap water but like rainwater and prefer tap water that is outside. Also I had chickens who eat slugs and snails. Slugs gather at my back-door at night, trying to get in and they no doubt contaminated the drinking water which was outside, Rolo would drink that too and she also would eat chicken poop but a fox got the chickens... Basically everything was against us but we didn't know.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
I didn't know there was an issue. I thought she had developed an allergy. In the morning her eyes were red and bulging. I was alarmed I googled the symptoms and it came up with allergy and conjunctivitis. I walked Rolo to the pharmacy, and bought eye drops to clean out whatever was irritating her eyes. She wagged her tail, she ran, she ate ... But she had been less energetic, less excited than usual. I put it down to her eyes upsetting her. I put the drops in her eyes and gave her food. When we got back from our walk, she sat down in a nearby basket and stayed there. She didn't jump up when I left the room. This was odd. I didn't call a vet, I got in my car and drove straight to a vet ... My vets was closed, I drove to a Pets at Home store, asked for advice, saw the in-store vet. We waited and hour for an appointment and when the vet looked at my dog, she said instantly she was concerned it was Lung worm. I asked her if she couldn't just give her immediate treatment for lung worm but she said no, there had to be blood tests.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
I consented to the blood tests, which they wouldn't do until I said I had the money to pay. I was charged £119 for a health check, £30 consultation, £15 for eye dye examination, £25 for blood test (I believe). Rolo had her neck shaved and blood taken for testing. We waited only 15 mins for the result. She had lungworm and also borderline anaemia.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
At the site of the blood test, there was a bleed. They put a cold compress on her neck. She was given Advocate and Purcare. We were told the worms were making her anaemic. The practice was closing, we were advised to take her to veterinary hospital to be watched overnight. We have been told she may die from blood not clotting. The vet said she may need a blood transfusion. I am only reading all these alerts now. I found this site whilst trying to understand what is going on.

What was the recovery process?
I am awaiting the outcome.

Is your dog OK now?
At veterinary hospital they are watching her. So far they have said she doesn't need a blood transfusion. She's resting and on a drip for fluids. I phoned just now, its 9:40pm. They said she is comfortable. I asked more questions and was told to be calm, and to call in the morning. That they would call me if she turned for the worse. I haven't been able to eat. I'm just thankful that I just bought a car and was able to get her to the vets and hospital. I will update.

Have you taken any new precautions?
I am trying to be positive. I am very encouraged by the ladies above who gave stories of recovery. Your messages or the accounts are what I am holding on to, that she has a chance. That the worms die, that health returns and her body heals. Please pray for her. I'm not sure what can be different. I do not want to turn my pet into a prisoner. My options are as stated above - to have stools checked for the lung worms bi-monthly or use the recommended medication i.e. the Advocate. Also to be aware of water sources contaminated by slugs. Don't trust supermarket worm tablets to work on all worms, you need the right dosage too so needs a weighing to make sure dosage isn't too low or high.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
If your dogs eyes are blood red and bulging, if your dog is less energetic than normal, take her to the vets and ask her to be checked for lung worm.

Rolo update: 20th October 2015

I have Rolo at home. It’s been absolutely terrifying going through the weekend. I don’t think my heart has stopped racing! She was admitted into hospital on the Saturday night. They said to phone for an update in the night. Our vet had said she might not make it through the night. The hospital said they would phone if she deteriorated. I didn’t want to sleep in case they called. They didn’t call. They said phone again after 9am. Around 10am we were able to have another update, her bloods were slightly worse we were told. We wanted to visit and was given a time of 2pm, which was moved to 5pm as the hospital said they had lots of emergencies to deal with.

We saw her at 5pm, she looked very sad. The dye from the eye test was still clouding her vision, she wasn’t the same as the day we took her in. Even though her eyes were bulging and blood red she had seen been excited to go for a walk but when we saw her, she was a shadow. She had a catheter in her leg and a drip attached, she did come out of her crate to see us but promptly laid back down again. She was nervous, she was trembling, and if anything went near her face, she whimpered. She also kind of cried if her neck was touched.

The vet at the hospital said they didn’t know much about how to treat lungworm, or the blood problem. I asked if Vit K had been given - they didn’t know if Vit K would be effective for Rolo's condition of internal bleeding. I asked about toxins released as the worms died - they weren’t sure how to deal with that either, they gave steroids to my dog without me knowing. I asked why steroids as they reduce the body’s ability to fight infection, but they said it was much of a much ... They had no choice, kill the worms and risk a shock from the toxins or give steroids to stop the body reacting to the toxins and risk other complications.

Rolo was not looking too good in her surroundings. We were allowed to sit with her and we brought food with us, somehow we persuaded her to eat and drink which the veterinary nurse hadn’t really achieved, and she seemed a little bit brighter. We were not allowed to take her home as we were told she could crash in the night. We were allowed to visit again in the night and she looked calmer, which was a relief. It was another worrying night.

The weekend turned into Monday, we awaited a call. We were told she was brighter and could collect her - we were excited to think we could bring her home. We arrived in the morning and to take her back to our vets for check-up. The two night stay came to £450. At the vets we were knocked back. We had not been properly updated and Rolo was not in a good condition to come home, it was just a transfer to the vets for the daytime for another later transfer to hospital. Her temp had risen a little, and her chest was noisy. The vet said she may have damaged lungs from the worms or lung infection. She was put on immediate antibiotics, and given a chest x-ray. This added another £244 for Monday. We had used up our money, and were now borrowing from relatives. The vet was matter of fact saying Rolo had a 50/50 chance of living or dying still.

We were told to leave Rolo there and wait for another update. At 6:30pm we were told her x-ray results - basically her lungs showed up with lots of scarring. I was incredulous that she had presented to us as having no breathing problems and yet here she was with an x-ray covered in white where it should be black. It was and is unbelievable to us. We are mortified for our dog but have hope that some healing may occur. In all the horror of it all and all the negativity, which created fear and dread in us as if doom were inevitable, I tried to imagine positivity and project her returning home and recovering.

We visited Rolo at 6:30pm and were told she had been stable during the day, her temperature reducing and she was brighter. We personally thought that it would be good for morale if Rolo was allowed home to sleep where she was used to (on our bed) and be surrounded by everyone she was used to, including our other pets (cats and chinchillas). They agreed but with strict instructions to return her first thing in the morning for examination, and for us to watch her and to rush her back into the vet hospital if there were any signs of crashing.

We were told she mustn’t have excitement, that due to her bleeding risk she must rest. Rolo perked up and wanted to run! We had to tell her to heel to keep her calm. She was lethargic, but she wagged her tail and laid on the settee and was half drowsy I guess from the medication she was on and the exhaustion of being away from home. She hadn’t pooped whilst in hospital two days, so I took her out to toilet and she pooped a firm toilet. She was happy but knowing the severity of her body I have put her on my bed and am watching her sleep. My heart is in my mouth hoping she makes it through but she seems to be a fighter. She is sleeping and stretching, her catheter is bandaged to her leg. I feel she will be ok but that’s my wishful thinking. I can’t believe this has happened but I’m glad the vet diagnosed right the first visit.

Winnifred and Zuzu

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Dublin, Ireland. A 10 month old Cavalier King Charles spaniel

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
Yes. There was an advertising campaign on our national radio broadcaster.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Drinking water from puddles on the driveway where snails must have passed through.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
I noticed she would lie down for a rest following extreme exertion when she played with the other dog. On Christmas Eve while out walking she suddenly couldn't breathe and was belching very loudly plus frothing at the mouth.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
I took her to the Emergency Pet Hospital where she was x-rayed and put on oxygen. While signing the consent form I was told the sedation could kill her. Thankfully, the next morning I was told she had done well overnight and I could take her home. I was not given a definite diagnosis but was told it could be lungworm infestation as she had bleeding into the lungs. She was put on antibiotics and steroids and I was advised to take her to my own vet on the Tuesday following Christmas. Immediately my vet suspected lungworm as she had had another case that same week. The blood test proved positive so the same treatment was continued.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
Advocate, Synulox, which I believe is an antibiotic, and Prednisolone, which is a steroid. I was instructed to keep her quiet with no walks.

What was the recovery process?
She is still on a half Prednisolone twice a day but her course of Synulox is completed. She has another 14 days of prescribed steroids.

Is your dog OK now?
She will not be allowed to walk for at least another 10 days. She still has a wheeze when she runs around or gets excited.

Have you taken any new precautions?
Just to ensure that Advocate is administered every 30 days. Strangely, my other dog, aged 17 months, has no signs of infection.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Keep the Advocate treatment up to date. I have been warning all the dog walkers I meet.

Kody and Telly

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
DWestern Oregon (State), USA. Kody (13 years) and Telly (15 years).

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
No, I had never heard of it before. My dogs have never traveled out of the immediate area.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
I have no idea. We have never seen them eat snails or slugs. They used to eat grass and may have ingested tiny baby snails or slugs on grass.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Coughing. One dog was coughing and treated for "chronic allergic bronchitis" for four years without sustained improvements. Then the other dog started coughing and it just so happened I had to switch vets and Kody was diagnosed and after a first false negative Telly was confirmed positive with a second fecal float test.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
Well, after being with the first vet for years and not seeing any sustained improvement we treated the "chronic allergic bronchitis" in both dogs for I would say three treatments at the new vet before he said, "well, nothing is working that I am trying. Lungworm is virtually non-existent in our area, maybe we should just try a lungworm test on a long shot" The Baermann fecal float test came back positive. Both dogs had x-rays many times for the bronchitis and had internal medicine specialists confirm several times that it was "chronic allergic bronchitis" which delayed treatment. Lungworm is just so rare here it was on no doctor's radar.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
Panacur granules (10% Fenbendazole) and then later prednisone was added for Kody. She had a very bad reaction to the pred, so Theophylline was used as the anti-inflammation agent in both dogs. Then when Telly's test came back positive they both took a round of 14 days of panacur, Theophylline and they take Revolution "spot on" monthly. They had several rounds 14 days of granules. They have had two rounds of Panacur liquid and Advantage Multi "spot on" monthly. They also had some rounds of antibiotics that helped short term. We are trying two standard process products added to Panacur and Advantage Multi now, so I will try an update later about that.

What was the recovery process?
So far they have EACH had nine rounds of Panacur roughly 30 days apart (a few times it was back to back so 30 days of Panacur straight) and keep testing positive with the fecal float test. The worms can shed for up to 30 days so a waiting period is necessary to try not get a false positive. Late last year Kody developed chronic bladder infections we keep having to battle, we do not know if it is related to anything else going on. Just mentioning it for more information.

Is your dog OK now?
No. They both keep testing positive even with frequent treatment and cough with better days and worse days. We tried giving Panacur away from food, giving with food, giving without calcium, all sorts of things. We changed from Revolution spot on to Advantage Multi (which is Advocate in the UK) two months ago. We stay hopeful. We are horribly worried about the worms migrating. We did have a CT scan confirming NO granulomas so that is not the cause of reinfection. No sustained progress in stopping the coughing that is wearing them out on the bad days. They still love walks, play, and such like, but have to stop to cough horribly sometimes. We worry they will bleed out internally or be in pain from migrations to the spinal cord, brain or eyes.

Have you taken any new precautions?
This is going to sound extreme, but remember our family has been affected for five plus years now. Yes, since the second positive test results we have changed several things. We follow them outside and do not let their fecal matter touch the ground. I would never have believed we could teach a 15 and a 13 year old to do their business directly into a waiting bag, but they do AND we wipe their bums with a "baby wipe" afterward. People think we are bonkers when we are out on walks doing all of this. So I take the opportunity to tell them about the lungworm invasion. We wash the water bowls at least once an hour while we are at home, we have always washed their food dishes after each meal. We wash all of the blankets, dog beds and carpet, toys, bones, sofas once a week. We wear gloves and do not cross the same gloved hand between them while giving treats. We do not let them eat grass EVER. We wash their feet after every walk with soap, and lots of fresh water. We also wash their toothbrushes with soap and put them in hydrogen peroxide and air dry them before using each night. We have been doing this abatement thing for many months and no, we are not retired people, it has been quite the trial.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
My advice to other dog owners in my area is just know there is a killer out there and when panacur and a spot on doesn't work the doctors have little idea what to do about it. I guess my advice is more for potential dog owners and that is please do not get a dog unless you are willing to do anything and spend any amount of money to keep it healthy or cure it when possible if it gets sick. Even the vet said "your dogs are 13 and 15 why not just let them go" I said because they are happy, affectionate, eating well, taking walks, playing, getting into mischief, and coughing their heads off! It has been very hard to stay hopeful and it is very expensive. My advice to potential dog owners and present owners is that if your dog becomes so sick and lethargic and won't eat etc. you may have to let it go to stop the suffering from this horrible lungworm problem. The vets are best equipped to help us through this invasion of lungworm.

Katie and Snoopy

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Eastbourne, East Sussex. 6 year old Jack Russell.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
Yes to an extent. My dog doesn't eat snails/slugs but drinks from puddles outside and eats grass. Didn't know they could become infected via the trails.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Licking a puddle or eating grass.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Snoopy first had a cough but we thought it was our new air freshener. He seemed OK after not using it. A week after he stopped eating and was coughing, had a runny nose, breathing rate of 130 per min. Vet first thought pneumonia and he was put on antibiotics whilst waiting for blood test result.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
From having blood test, less than 12 hours.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
Carry on with antibiotics and advocate.

What was the recovery process?
Snoopy had a massive allergic reaction to the dead worms, they release a toxin. He was covered in bumps and lifeless. We thought we were going to lose him.

Is your dog OK now?
Took him to a different vet as couldn't get to the emergency vets. He gave Snoopy a very strong dose of steroid injection and had to see how he was this morning. Not getting our hopes up but he's now having steroid tablets and he can walk around and has a small appetite back looks much happier. Just a case of wait and see how much he recovers.

Have you taken any new precautions?
He will be having Advocate monthly along side his usual treatment of Drontal.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Keep an eye on your dog for anything unusual and get them tested for lungworm. Don't let them near snail/slug trails and use Advocate monthly to kill the evil larvae before they grow.

Update
Katie emailed us to say that sadly Snoopy passed away. Katie said: "We lost him due to liver failure from the toxins that the lungworm give off once they die. The vet had never seen it happen to a dog before and I would like other owners to be aware of this."

Diane and Lucy

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Dublin, Ireland. 18 month old Collie/springer

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
I saw posters in the vets but knew little about how it was contracted.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
From slug trails in the garden or eating one in grass, she eats grass all the time.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
2 months ago I noticed she wasn't as energetic as usual and she had diarrhoea so I brought her to the vet and she was on anti-biotics. After that she seemed ok but I sensed she wasn't herself, she then developed a cough and was constantly sneezing with runny nose and panting, the vet diagnosed a respiratory tract infection and she was on antibiotics for 2 weeks. The sneezing cleared up but I noticed her breathing was very fast and her heart was pounding after exercise. Then at the weekend after some exercise her breathing was very bad and she was coughing a lot. I brought her to the vet and she first thought it was heart and was referring her to a heart specialist but then rang me later and said it could be lungworm.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
4 weeks from the respiratory tract infection. The vet didn't do any tests to confirm the lungworm just by her symptoms.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
She's been prescribed advocate and the steroid prednisolone for 3 days.

What was the recovery process?
Today is her 2nd day on prednisolone and she's had the advocate.

Is your dog OK now?
She's very tired today and her heart is racing and she's panting sometimes which is worrying. I'm going to call the vet tomorrow and tell her I'm worried that there is damage to her lungs and ask for an x ray.

Have you taken any new precautions?
I'm picking up slugs and snails in the garden and I will be extra vigilant in future and administer advocate every month. I'm just hoping she's going to be ok and that there's no permanent damage to her lungs.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Be aware of the symptoms and get your dog tested for lungworm even if the vet doesn't think it's it, you know your dog best!

Elizabeth and Teddy

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Coalville Leicestershire 8 months

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
No I'd never heard of lungworm.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Snail slime.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Teddy started loosing weight and making funny noises when he was sleeping and would pass out while coughing one morning soon after he was vomiting blood so rushed him to vets who initially thought it was a bone causing problems but he threw up a large amount of blood and vet had luckily just been doing a paper on lungworm.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
No the vet took blood but also did a test straight away with blood under microscopic and saw the larvae so immediately treated him with Vitamin K and placed on drip. We were told to expect the worst and he was transferred to animal hospital.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
He was given Vitamin K and Panacur Granules three times day. He stayed in hospital a week. Vet gave me updates everyday. He came home and we continued the granules and blood tests every few weeks. He wasn't allowed on walks for three months.

What was the recovery process?
Around six months. After three months he finally had clear blood results though he now has to Milbemax tabs every month and Spot-on and will carry this on for a long time.

Is your dog OK now?
No, he can't tolerate exercise now the garden is as far as he goes and short walks. He has permanent lung damage.

Have you taken any new precautions?
We pick up snails and slugs in garden and never leave his toys outside.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Worm your dog with a wormer like Milbemax that treats lung worm. Don't think it won't happen to your dog. Our vet had only ever had one other case.

Lucy and Iggy

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
North Bristol. He is 3 years old.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
No.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Eating or licking slugs or snails or eating the poo of an infected animal.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Coughing, breathing seemed very fast. Then one morning he had vomited blood. I took him straight to the vet. He continued to vomit and pass blood in his stools.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
He was x-rayed to look for abdominal/gastro problems and it was discovered then that there was something wrong with his lungs. The vet then told me he had tested positive for lungworm, just 8 days after the first vet appointment.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
Panacur for 5 days, a long effect antibiotic injection, advocate and he has Milbemax to take in 1 weeks time then again in 6 months.

What was the recovery process?
Iggy seemed to worsen after initial treatment was given. Vet says this doesn't surprise him as the treatment has killed the worms and the dog is coughing more to expel the dead worms. He seems much better today.

Is your dog OK now?
The vet saw him today and gave him more antibiotics in pill form for 10 day course. He will be checked over again in 1 week then have another x-ray a week after that.

Have you taken any new precautions?
I will be worming Iggy religiously every month with advocate from now on and give him Milbemax every 6 months. He will also wear a muzzle when going out for walks when his breathing has improved.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Worm your dog, using advocate, and stop them eating/rolling in poo and drinking from puddle water. Best way to do that is for them to wear muzzle and watch constantly when on walks to check they are not eating anything they shouldn't be.

Dave and Peggy

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
I live in Buckinghamshire and Peggy is 8 years old.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
Yes I have seen posters at the vets.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Eating grass and just about anything else she can find that can be eaten.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Her breathing rate increased dramatically accompanied by listlessness.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
No literally within one week of taking her to the vet. We opted for x rays and full spectrum blood test.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
An initial injectable steroid followed by steroid in tablet form (Prednidale) 3 times daily and Advocate every 30 days.

What was the recovery process?
We have literally brought her home today and started the treatment so fingers crossed on the recovery.

Is your dog OK now?
Incredibly she is noticeably better breathing wise than she was yesterday although I realistically know that it is unlikely any of the treatment is already working.

Have you taken any new precautions?
Advocate will be administered for the rest of Peggy's life.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
If you know in your gut that your dog is 'out of sorts' don't delay, as early diagnosis and subsequent treatment greatly increases the chances of a full recovery.

Update
I originally submitted a case study when we were just commencing with lungworm treatment for Peggy, following a positive diagnosis. I wanted to send an update now we are a some way down the road with her treatment and her condition, I am pleased to say, has dramatically improved.

The recovery process has been slow and were it not for the wealth of valuable information available on the web, with superb accounts from others with beloved pets affected by this awful disease, I would not have been so well positioned to know what to expect. Peggy showed no sign of the tell tale coughing before treatment (although she did immediately after treatment) but she had lost a lot of condition/weight, had started stumbling when walking and her respiratory rate had increased dramatically. Her X ray showed so much shadowing on her lungs that her heart was not visible, initially leading us to believe that she may have lung cancer. Thankfully, I had also requested a full spectrum blood test, which came back with the positive diagnosis for lungworm. Peggy began treatment immediately with steroids (to reduce inflammation) and Advocate (for lungworm) and this week will see the last of the steroids, which we have been weaning her off over the past three weeks. From original diagnosis to the date of this submitted update has been a period of approximately four months and I am delighted to say that Peggy is around 80% recovered. Her respiratory rate slowly but surely improved (I checked her regularly with a stopwatch, recording the results) She has started trotting from room to room again, as opposed to a laboured slow ‘trudge’. We will shortly be resuming short walks and gradually work up to her usual routine, which should hopefully bring her back up to full recovery.

Advocate is now a staple treatment every month for the rest of Peggy’s life. I had seen the posters and dismissed them due to ignorance and a foolish belief that “It won’t happen to my dog!” but I really do believe that had we not acted when we did, Peggy would no longer be with us. I am 16.5 stone bodybuilder and I am not ashamed to say that when I originally took her in for her x rays four months ago, I sobbed like a baby as she had become so poorly and I didn’t hold out a lot of hope.

Lynne and Ali

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Pontefract West Yorkshire Ali was approximately 6 years old. She came through a Boxer rescue so her exact age was unknown.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
No.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
I was having a new kitchen fitted and some building work done! I saw slug trails on the floor when I got up really early one morning. I washed it every night after the work men had gone but I began bleaching it every morning too until I saw Ali licking the floor and switched to a cleaner without bleach in. She was licking the trails up, apparently they taste sweet!

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
She would suddenly jump up and make a gasping sound and look quite frightened. She was eating anything she could get hold of one minute but then suddenly stopped eating completely about three days afterwards.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
I didn't get a diagnosis from my vet of 27 years. They did bloods to check liver and kidney function. X rays and commented that they couldn't see her heart for her lungs which were black! They said it was water on her lungs and gave her diuretics!

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
One day she would be given diuretics and the next day a different vet would give her antibiotics! I went on the Boxer rescue website they had a health problem section and I read about Lungworm. It was down south, no where near us but as soon as I read it I knew that my Ali had Lungworm. That evening I took my by now very poorly girl to the vet, I was 5 minutes late for my appointment as it took me a while to get her into the car. We were made to wait until every other single patient had been seen and then some! Un deterred I explained what I had read to the vet. They weighed Ali and suggested she stay in overnight for treatment. I was so relieved, treatment because they knew what it was of course. I had to phone the following morning, they said she was really ill. I asked if I could go in and see her they said no it wasn't possible. She stayed a second night and I received a call at work from the vet the following morning! She was gravely ill and they wanted to put her to sleep. I'm On my way I told them. They didn't want to wait for me to get there!! they wanted my permission to pts then! I didn't give it!! When I arrived the first thing I was given was the bill! It listed treatments given.., anti biotics. Diuretics more diuretics. She hadn't been given any treatment for lungworm at all.

What was the recovery process?
As soon as I saw Ali I was shocked to see how much weight she had lost. She had eaten nothing for two full days. She looked at me and wagged her tail weakly, her eyes lit up and I realised that she thought she had been left again, that I didn't want her! The vet was talking about how they could try this and that but my bill was already £1450!! I took my dog in my arms and walked out. I had even paid for a fecal test but when I asked after the results it hadn't even been sent off!!

Is your dog OK now?
My daughter was on benefits at the time and able to use the Pdsa vet care for her dog. She called them and asked to speak to a vet. When the vet came on the line I explained everything that had happened and asked if I could take Ali to them. They said they weren't allowed to treat her as I didn't qualify I was working! I begged them to help me save her and the vet actually got quite upset. I was told to go to my vet and ask for panacur and advocate to treat the lungworm. I was also told it may be too late to save her. My vet said lungworm hadn't been diagnosed so he couldn't prescribe what I wanted. My daughter went to the Pdsa and bought oanacur. Advocate and some doggie invalid food. I took Ali home and for the next few days I treated her as per an information sheet from the boxer rescue's vet. I fed her the invalid food with a turkey baster. I carried her out and held her while she had a wee then carried her in again. I carried her up to bed with me at night, I didn't let her walk around at all, she couldn't afford to use any energy, she needed all she had to fight this thing. One morning she seemed so much brighter and I realised that she had had a good nights sleep! I carried her downstairs and out onto the garden, she wanted to sniff around then she looked up to the sunshine, it was a beautiful day. She took a deep breath in and after a second let it out again. I was ecstatic, she had beaten it, she could breathe again. Still I carried her in and laid her on the sofa, I had a cup of tea and then I carried her upstairs and back to bed while I got dressed. Halfway up the stairs she went limp, she had stopped breathing! I ran and laid her down on the landing, her tongue gums were turning blue, I tried cpr but I lost her. That was 6 years ago now. I was and still am absolutely heartbroken by her loss and by the complete lack of real treatment by my vet. If they weren't aware would it have killed them to check. No. The fact that they didn't check killed my beautiful Ali. I took all my dogs out of their care and they asked about Ali. I told them nothing!

Sleep tight my beautiful Ali, my tap dancing girl. I'm sorry. X

Have you taken any new precautions?
My dogs always have advocate. I'm never a day late and I'm a bit of a crazy lady now. I detest slugs with a passion and use pots of salt on any I see in my gardens. Ali will have been the first case in the area but it's unlikely that vet reported it as he didn't diagnose it either!!

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
If you are able to use the Pdsa vet care then please do. They want to diagnose your dog treat it and get it out of there asap. It is not in their interests to do un necessary costly tests. If you can't and use a private small animal vet ask why about every single thing they do and don't tell them if your dog has insurance or not! In short don't trust them with your pets life make them explain every little thing they do. I hope your dog never ever contracts lungworm. Please use a recommended spot on suitable to prevent Lung Worm.

Roy and Cobber

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Aldershot, 6.5 very healthy chap who always leads the way on a walk. Mad as a hatter in the house. Choc Labrador.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
I heard of it but as I was giving him worming tablets I thought nothing of it.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Licking grass not eating snails or slugs.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
3 months ago he seemed to slow up a bit we thought joints or something due to his breed. Over last few weeks he deteriorated significantly and last week he had got so slow and tired, we could not walk more than a few doors from home.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
1 month, initially vet thought joints, so he had anti inflammatory drugs which put us off course somewhat, he had xrays on joints that revealed nothing, vet asked to do his lungs too so I agreed, this gave us a break complete with some other test that revealed lungworm.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
Advocate followed by Panacur, unlike others here no vit k or steroids hoping this is not going to be an issue.

What was the recovery process?
We are 5 days in, 3 more days of Panacur with 3 to go. He seems a little chirpier and walking is a little easier.

Is your dog OK now?
Showing improving signs but a journey to go yet.

Have you taken any new precautions?
No but for sure we will, the monkey will always chew grass so I guess this is unavoidable will ensure his toys are not left out and we will get advocate monthly.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Be aware of the symptoms key one being lethargy for us.

Mike and Laura

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Norwich, Norfolk. 15 months old.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
No.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
From the park behind our house or garden. She likes eating cut grass and although ours is collected in the garden it isn't over the park.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Loss of energy, arched back on the Wednesday evening worsening Thursday morning. Temperature, heart rate etc all showing normal. Over night Friday to Saturday morning whites of eyes went blood red.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
Yes, went to the vets Thursday morning and lungworms wasn't diagnosed until late Saturday evening. But we are only the second case they have seen in area in 10 years and the vet treating Milly hadn't seen a case in his 15 years.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
Vitamin K on drip and worming powder and tablet.

Once home (for 12 days):
Milbemax - 1 a week for 4 weeks
Zantac 1/2 a tablet twice a day
Panaccur 2.8g a day
Synulox 1.4ml twice a day 1/2 hour before food

What was the recovery process?
From Saturday night started with worming treatments. Milly was finally allowed home Tuesday afternoon but with a collection of tablets and powders to administer over the next 10-12 days.

Is your dog OK now?
Today (30/11/17) vet did blood test after being diagnosed on the 11/11/17 and finishing antibiotics and worming powder 2 days ago. Test came back positive but vet said may be too soon to tell as blood test will also pick up dead worms - can anyone give any advise here?

Have you taken any new precautions?
None as yet but will not put water bowl out in the summer moving forward.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Check your worming tablets!

Kim and Kyzer

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
North West London, he is 1 year old and was diagnosed with lung worm at 11 months old.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
No, I did not know that I had to continue worming him as he is my first proper pet so I only had wormed him once.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Drinking from puddles or eating grass that a slug or snails slime trail had been on.

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
He used to cough a lot mostly after exersize but I didn’t think it was an issue, I just thought it was because he had a dry mouth and was thirsty, he also had dioherra and vomited almost everyday and I had been to the vets so many times about his dioherra that also most of the time had blood in it. But about a week ago his nose starting bleeding randomly so I went to the vet and they said it was a cut that she should she but when she was taking a look at him unluckily his nose was not bleeding. So we went home and during the night he was breathing funny through his mouth and I called the out of hours vet and sent a video of his breathing and they said “it looks like it’s just the blood getting into his throat, I don’t see any breathing difficulty”. So I took a trip to the vet the next day as I was too concerned to leave it. The vet realised he was not breathing through his nose and took him in for an x Ray of his chest.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
12 hours from a chest x ray and fecal test.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
They kept him overnight on drips to regulate the blood and now it is the 5th day of him being home taking pedrisonole (steroids) to stop any secondary infection or lung damage, worming tablet to kill worms and antibiotics to stop allergic reaction.

What was the recovery process?
He has very little energy, sometimes collapsing but realisies and stops him self halfway. He only has pooped 2 times since his nose bleed caused him to not breathe through his nose.

Is your dog OK now?
He is still recovering and I know he can and will make it.

Have you taken any new precautions?
I will definitely be worming him every month!

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Worm your dog with advocate or drontal every month not every three months.

Note from Admin re comment above: Drontal is a tablet to be given quarterly (not monthly) and only protects against intestinal worms (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms).

Pam and Dozer

Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
West Yorkshire, 4 year old, healthy dog.

Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
Yes I was aware of it but thought it was rare and that drugs companies and vets were scaremongering. I had not heard of Oslerus Osleri which is the type of lungworm he has contracted.

How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
Eating grass or poo? (Oslerus Osleri is spread by infected poo and saliva, not snails and slugs).

What first alerted you that there was an issue?
I regularly send samples of poo off for testing and one came back positive. It was completely unexpected.

Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
No, I sent a sample on Thursday and got the results the following Monday. The lab report said there was a small number of larvae.

Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
Panacur daily for 7 days.

What was the recovery process?
We have only just started treatment.

Is your dog OK now?
Hopefully we caught it early enough to make a full recovery.

Have you taken any new precautions?
I will now worm count more frequently.

What advice would you give to other dog owners?
Either treat with a good quality wormer frequently or have regular tests done to identify any problems early.

Submit your case study

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Where do you live, how old was your dog at the time etc?
Did you know about lungworm in dogs?
How do you think your dog might have contracted it?
What first alerted you that there was an issue?
Did it take long to get a diagnosis?
Once diagnosed, what was the treatment?
What was the recovery process?
Is your dog OK now?
Have you taken any new precautions?
What advice would you give to other dog owners?
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