Lungworm Information for Dog Owners
Lungworm is on the increase in many areas, including the UK and Europe where it was uncommon until recently. Lungworm infestation can be fatal in pets, and is often undiagnosed until it is too late to take action to save the animal. You MUST make sure that dogs and cats are treated to prevent lungworm.
Many worming treatments do not treat lungworm. Advocate is currently the recommended worming treatment for prevention of lungworm in dogs. Advocate is a prescription-only medication, and you will require a prescription from your vet to purchase it.
Advocate can be expensive, especially when buying direct from your vet. Online suppliers of pet medicine such as Petmeds offer prescription medications including Advocate reduced cost. You can get a prescription from your vet for a small charge (usually around £5) which you can then use to purchase pet-medications online. This is usually a much cheaper option than buying direct from your vet, and many online suppliers offer next-day delivery so you wont have to wait long.
Medic Animal are an online supplier who sell Advocate for Dogs at a reduced price. They also offer free delivery and discount on larger orders.
Snails and slugs are thought to be the main vector in the spread of Lungworm. Pets can pick up the parasite through direct contact with snails and slugs. They can also pick it up by drinking water from puddles, water bowls, ponds or other sources where snails and slugs may have been. It can also be caught from contact with any surface that snails and slugs have crawled over. Toys left outside on the lawn often have shiny ‘snail trails’ on them the next morning. You should try and avoid leaving toys outside for this reason. If you feed your dog raw bones you must not leave them out overnight – slugs in particular will be attracted to them, and may contaminate bones that your dog will go back to the next day.
Discouraging Carriers of Lungworm
SLUGS & SNAILS
As well as being a general nuisance to gardeners, slugs and snails are potentially vey hazardous to dogs who may contract Lungworm from contact with the creatures or their slime trails.
Conventional ‘pellet’ baits are highly toxic to pets and should never be used in gardens frequented by pets. There are several pet-friendly tactics you can employ to reduce slug and snail populations. It may take a few weeks for numbers to reduce, but in the long run is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy, both for the sake of your plants and your pets.
Restricting access to food sources in your garden will discourage slugs and snails, and should help reduce numbers.
In order to protect plants from slugs and snails you can fit strips of copper around the stems of your plants. These should be 2″ wide, and can also be fitted around the base of flower pots and containers in order to prevent slugs and snails climbing into them.
Lava rocks can be placed on flowerbeds and used to form slug-proof barriers. The abrasive surface of the rocks will deter slugs and snails from accessing plants to feed.
Changing your watering schedule can have a dramatic effect on slug and snail numbers in your garden. Both species are most active at night, and prefer wet conditions. Watering your garden in the evening provides damp soil in the evening – perfect conditions for slugs and snails! By watering in the morning you can drastically cut down on slug and snail activity, as the earth should have dried out by the time evening comes.
Slug and Snail traps are best left out over night in gardens with pets. Slugs and snails are most active in the hours of darkness, and so most likely to visit your traps. You can also leave traps out over night without your pet gaining access to them. Put them out last thing at night after you bring your pet indoors, and then simply remove them first thing in the morning before you let your pet out again.
Beer traps are a useful way to attract and capture slugs. Dogs in particular are likely to drink beer, so do make sure to remove them from the garden before you let your dog out.
Over-turned flower pots, propped up on one side with a stone under the rim, will attract slugs. You can further entice them by placing half a grapefruit underneath the pot. Leave pots out over night and you will find slugs sheltering under them in the morning, which you can then remove.
Any object that provides a cool, damp, dark spot for slugs to shelter in during the day will attract them. Wooden boards or piece of black plastic sheeting on your lawn or flower beds should gather slugs underneath it. Remove the board or sheeting in the morning to reveal the slugs and dispose of them.
FROGS & TOADS
While frogs and toads are generally seen as gardeners’ friends, pet owners should be wary of their presence. Thanks to their tendency to eat slugs and snails, frogs and toads can carry and lungworm, which can in turn infect your dog.
Like dogs, foxes can become infected with lungworm. One of the ways in which lungworm can be picked up is through contact with the droppings of infected animals. Dogs are often particularly interested in fox droppings. As foxes are closely related to the domestic dog, there are many dieseases and infections that can be passed between the two. In order to protect your dog, you should do all you can to discourage foxes from entering your garden.
Potential food sources such as outdoor rubbish bins will attract foxes. You should make sure any outdoor bins are secure. If possible, keep your bin in an outbuilding such as a garage or shed to prevent foxes gaining access. If this is not an available option, you might want to invest in a lock for your bin.
Do not leave food out for other wildlife at night as it will attract foxes. If you feed any of your pet outside, make sure food bowls are brought in at night. Bones and dog chews should be removed from the garden before dark.