A veterinary practice is warning dog owners about a potentially fatal parasite on the rise across the UK.
White Cross Vets, which has practices in Leeds, has already seen numerous cases of lungworm across its 21 UK practices this year.
They are advising dog owners to make sure their canine companions are protected against the parasite, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports.
Officially known as Angiostrongylus vasorum, it lives among slugs and snails and can be extremely dangerous if left untreated.
Parasite easily preventable
Despite its name, the parasite actually travels around the whole body, generally living in the heart or major blood vessels and can cause breathing problems, seizures, heart failure, weight loss and nose bleeds.
But it is easily preventable with a monthly tablet or spot on, prescribed by a vet, that will also protect the dog against other common parasites.
Andrew Miller, from White Cross Vets in Roundhay, said: “Lungworm is a really nasty parasite that causes all types of serious problems.
"Dogs become infected with lungworm if they eat slugs and snails, or from licking at their slime trails, which can also find their way into puddles, grass and undergrowth, as well as in water bowls and on toys left outside.
“The problem increases in wet and warm weather when there is naturally more slug and snail activity, which is what we’ve experienced this year.
"We also know the UK’s dog population has soared during lockdown and that is also likely to be contributing to an increase in lungworm cases, especially because it commonly affects puppies due to their curious nature."
Mr Miller said that treatment of lungworm was much easier than a cure, which can result in serious complications.
"As a result, it’s particularly important that dog owners protect their pets against lungworm with a routine monthly treatment," he added.
“There aren’t any over the counter products available from pet shops that will prevent lungworm, so dog owners should consult their local veterinary practice and also check that any treatments they are currently giving their dog protects against lungworm.”