The old saying goes that snails are slow. Well relatively speaking they are but new research shows that snails can travel at a relatively speedy one metre per hour. Researchers have found that snails can cover distances up to 25m in a 24 hour period. This means they are fast enough to explore the length of an average UK garden in a single night (source BBC News Fast moving snails spread deadly dog disease across UK).
Why is this relevant to dogs?
With snails loving wet summers, they have been on the increase over the past few years. They can be a threat to dogs because they carry the lungworm larvae. If a dog eats a snail carrying the lungworm larvae they can catch this often deadly disease. There is evidence that the snail slime trails can also infect a dog if they are eaten or licked.
Snails pose a growing threat to pets. "They are not just lettuce munchers, they are carriers of parasites that can kill your dogs," said Dr Dave Hodgson, who led the study.
A recent survey of veterinary surgeons indicated that the lungworm parasite was now endemic across the UK, where once it was mainly found in the south of England.
"It is a national problem and we all have to pay attention to the interactions between dogs and snails," said Dr Hodgson.
Speed testing the nation's snails - watch the BBC video
It is important to minimise the risk to your dog.
Try to avoid your dog having contact with snails (especially eating them) and don't leave dog toys or water bowls in the garden.
The researchers also found out that snails have a certain amount of homing instinct and can find their way back over short distances. So just throwing them next door won't help (not that you would do that anyway, of course).
What do you need to look out for?
For more info on lungworm in dogs, the signs to look out for and precautions to take, please see Be Lungworm Aware.
If you suspect your dog may have eaten a slug or a snail or is exhibiting any of the signs of lungworm, it is important that you make an appointment at your vet for a check-up. Your vet can perform a relatively simple test that can help determine whether your dog is infected.