MILLIONS of dog owners are unaware of a deadly disease spreading across the UK, according to new research.

While just over half of dog owners are aware of lungworm, 39 per cent admitted they didn’t know exactly what it is, and a further one in ten, were unaware of lungworm entirely.

The research found there had been 416 reported cases in a 50 mile radius of Colchester.

Vets4Pets, who carried out the research, is now working with Bayer to help inform owners of the dangers of this deadly parasite.

Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Our research has discovered that awareness, and particularly knowledge, of the parasite lungworm is still pretty low amongst UK dog owners.

“It appears that many people still don’t fully understand how their dogs can contract it, what threats it poses and how important, and easy, prevention is."

What is lungworm?

Lungworm is a parasite that can be deadly to dogs if ingested.

It uses multiple animals to help complete its lifecycle, with dogs and foxes as the primary hosts, and slugs, snails and even frogs as the intermediate hosts.

Vets4Pets’ research found that less than a third of dog owners were able to correctly identify that slugs and snails spread the lungworm parasite.

What are the signs of lungworm?

The most common symptoms of lungworm infection are:


Changes in breathing or struggling to breathe

Going off food

Upset tummy with vomiting and/or diarrhoea

Loss of weight

Tiredness and depression

Unexplained or excessive bruising

Pale gums


Sadly, dogs with severe lungworm infections can become very ill in fact, 9% of infected dogs will die.

If your dog is experiencing any of these signs you should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

How can I stop it?

There are lots of options for preventing an infestation developing.

  • Regular worming treatments.

Worming treatments usually come in the form of tablets or spot-ons, and may manage a range of parasites including lungworms.

The best parasite protocol for your dog will depend on you, your dog, your lifestyle and even the season, and your vet can help you decide which regime works best for you.

However you choose to manage worms in your dog, make sure to speak to a vet about the best anti-parasitic on offer, as many over the counter treatments have poor efficacy.

  • Picking up your dog’s faeces quickly - this will help prevent the spread of lungworm.
  • Removing toys and bowls from the garden overnight so they are not exposed to slugs and snails.
  • Changing the water in water bowls frequently.