A CITY dog lover is urging others to stay vigilant after she lost her beloved pooch to a deadly parasite.
Lucy Temple-Brown is joining other owners and vets nationwide in support of the national ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ campaign by Bayer Animal Health after her dog, Pups, died from lungworm.
She first noticed the 5-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier was unwell when he started to suffer from a persistent cough that would make him rest.
After several rounds of tests, which showed heart problems, Miss Temple-Brown’s vet diagnosed Pups with lungworm – a parasite often caught by dogs after eating common garden slugs and snails.
Unfortunately, Pups died shortly afterwards.
Describing Pups as a ‘treasured member’ of her family, Lucy said his death had come as a total shock.
She added: “I hadn’t heard of lungworm before and didn’t realise it could be so serious.
“We’re absolutely devastated at his death and just want to tell every dog owner we meet about the parasite.
“It’s easily prevented with monthly use of the right worming treatment so we don’t want anyone to go through what we’ve had to.”
Dogs can pick up the parasite from slugs and snails carrying the larvae – or even by swallowing the slime of an infected slug.
And once inside a dog’s system, the parasite travels through the body eventually ending up in the heart.
If left untreated, a dog’s health can deteriorate rapidly and can even result in death – earning lungworm the nickname the ‘hidden killer’.
Mark Bossley, chief vet at the UK’s leading animal charity, Blue Cross, said: “We regularly advise dog owners of the dangers of lungworm because, sadly, we see so many cases every year.
“It is a hidden killer so we urge dog owners to talk to their vet about preventative treatments and be vigilant with their dogs when in the garden or on walks.”
The symptoms of lungworm can vary, including coughing, breathing difficulties, bleeding, general sickness and in some cases without any sign of the infection, sudden death.
Treatment can result in full recovery but preventative products are available.
Visit www.lungworm.co.uk/map and enter your postcode to check the level of risk of lungworm in your area.