Lungworm more prevalent in young dogs not wormed regularly

September 28, 2010, University of Bristol
Lungworm more prevalent in young dogs not wormed regularly
Younger dogs are more likely to be infected with Angiostrongylus vasorum.

Young dogs and those that are not wormed regularly are significantly more likely to be infected with the life-threatening, parasitic lungworm, Angiostrongylus vasorum, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Lungworm is now widespread throughout southern Britain, with reports of cases further north. Veterinarians are advised to be vigilant for lungworm-associated disease.

In the first study of its kind in Great Britain, scientists in Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences tested the faeces of almost 900 for lungworm to look for factors which may increase a dog’s risk of infection and to identify signs of infection.  Lungworm was found to be a common cause of disease in Southwest England and Wales - 16 per cent of dogs presenting symptoms tested positive for lungworm, as well as 2 per cent of seemingly healthy dogs.  However, this is likely to be an underestimate.

Dogs under 18 months were found to be 8 times more likely to have lungworm than dogs over 8 years old, and dogs between 18 months and 8 years old were 4 times more likely to have lungworm than dogs over 8 years old.  Dogs tested positive for lungworm year-round but there was an increase in numbers diagnosed during the winter and spring.

Infected dogs may display a wide range of symptoms and diagnosis is challenging. While over half of infected dogs were reported to be coughing or having difficulty breathing, lungworm infection is not always associated with respiratory signs. Infected dogs may present any combination of a wide range of symptoms including lethargy, tiring easily with exercise, and gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea.  A significant number of infected dogs displayed signs of bleeding disorders such as excessive bleeding from small wounds or following surgery, blood in the urine and vomit, pale skin and bleeding in the eyes and skin.

Dr. Eric Morgan who led the research, said: “This parasite can cause serious disease and is spreading, reaching many new areas (including Bristol and Scotland) in the last few years.  Disease can present in a variety of ways, not necessarily involving respiratory signs, so pet owners and their vets should be aware of the risk.  Disease is most common in younger dogs, though age is not a barrier to infection.  On the bright side, dogs that are treated regularly with appropriate wormers are at lower risk, so we can act to protect our pets’ health.”

Explore further: Dogs carrying hospital superbug

More information: Angiostrongylus vasorum infection in dogs: Presentation and risk factors by Morgan, E. R., et al, in Veterinary Parasitology. … cription#description

Related Stories

Dogs carrying hospital superbug

May 31, 2007

Veterinarians in Sweden say dogs may be spreading the MRSA superbug in veterinary clinics. The first Swedish case of a dog contracting the virus was recorded at a clinic in Stockholm last fall, The Local newspaper said Wednesday.

Dog 'laugh' silences other dogs

December 5, 2005

Washington state researchers report discovering what might be the sound of dog laughter. The scientists say the long, loud pant they recorded has a calming or soothing effect on the behavior of other dogs, ABC News reported.

Penn State studies storm-phobic canines

December 15, 2005

Penn State University researchers have determined pet owners can't resolve storm phobia in their dogs, but having a multi-dog home may reduce stress.

Study helps clarify tail injuries in dogs

June 25, 2010

( -- Tail docking is a very emotive subject the world over. A new study will explain the scientific understanding of tail injuries and tail docking in dogs.

Study: Barking causes stress in dogs

July 25, 2006

U.S. veterinary scientists say the overwhelming noise of barking at the nation's animal shelters causes problems for both shelter employees and the dogs.

Canine influenza was around as early as 1999

March 18, 2008

The canine influenza virus, first identified in 2004, had been circulating in the greyhound population for at least five years prior to its discovery and may have been responsible for numerous outbreaks of respiratory disease ...

Recommended for you

How winter temps can affect your spring fishing

January 16, 2018

Cold winter weather can play a key role in what you're allowed to fish for next spring. That point was driven home when low temperatures in early January led North Carolina to temporarily bar fishing for spotted seatrout ...

Key player in cell metabolism identified

January 16, 2018

Researchers from the Genomic Instability and Cancer Laboratory at Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have identified a key role for EXD2 in protein production in the mitochondria, the cellular organelles ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.