An Xray showing the lungworm in Jessie

Lungworm warning after dog collapses

Blue Cross has issued a warning to dog owners after a beagle collapsed at home with the potentially-fatal parasite lungworm.

Jesse the beagle recovering from her ordeal in kennels
Jessie recovering from her ordeal

Four-year-old Jessie was on the brink of death when her owners rushed her to our Victoria animal hospital in central London last month.

Vet Alison Brennan said: "When Jessie arrived it was immediately clear she was in a bad way. We had to do several tests to find out what was wrong and when lungworm tests came back positive we had to act fast.”

Dogs get lungworm (pictured above in Jessie’s X-ray) by eating larvae found in infected snails, slugs or frogs. They can also accidentally eat infected tiny slugs if they are on a toy or their fur.

The lungworm larvae then grows inside the dog and moves through their body to live in their heart and blood vessels, causing heart and breathing problems. The worms can then produce their own larvae inside the body which leads to serious issues.

The disease can spread quickly in the environment through dogs passing the larvae in their waste and infecting more slugs and snails.

Symptoms may be hard to spot but include coughing, breathing problems, lethargy and abnormal blood clotting or bleeding. It can be prevented with worming treatments available from vets.

Alison added: “We regularly advise dog owners of the dangers of lungworm because, sadly, we see cases every year. It is a hidden killer so we urge dog owners to talk to their vet about preventative treatments and make sure they keep an eye on pets outside and wash their toys and water bowls if left outdoors.”

After several days of 24-hour intensive care and the dedication of the veterinary team treating her, Jessie made a full recovery.

Read our advice on lungworm and how to prevent it to protect your pet.

— Page last updated 22/12/2020