Dog owners are being warned about a potentially fatal parasite that has been spotted in Pembrokeshire.

More than 150 cases of lungworm have been reported in a 50-mile radius around Haverfordwest.

The parasite, which can require immediate veterinary assistance, lives among slugs and snails.

Dogs can be affected when eating the slugs and snails, ingesting lungworm larvae.

Western Telegraph:

A new interactive map, produced by Elanco, shows where lungworm has been reported across the UK.

You can view the map here.

What is lungworm?

The map has been created due to the sheer seriousness lungworm can present if not treated in a timely manner.

Officially known as Angiostrongylus vasorum, the parasite can cause severe illness among dogs, eventually leading to death if not caught in time.

The PDSA has said that despite its name, the parasite travels around the whole body and cause breathing difficulties, heart failure, seizures and bleeding disorders.

What are the symptoms of lungworm?

That has prompted the PDSA to release a list of symptoms that dog owners should look out for if they believe their dog has come into contact, or eaten a slug or snail.

It says that symptoms can be difficult to spot because they are often very vague and varied, but says common symptoms include the following.

  • Coughing
  • Breathing problems (fast, heavy, noisy)
  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained bruising and bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Collapse and shock
  • Blindness

What should you do?

Vets across the country say that dog owners should contact their local practice immediately if their dog is showing any symptoms of lungworm.

The PDSA say this is because treatment depends on how severe the infection is and what symptoms they are experiencing, which requires medical attention.

It said that vets will tend to kill the lungworm at the first opportunity, although this process is critical, meanwhile certain cases may require hospitalisation.

It said: "Mild lungworm infections often only require lungworm treatment and medication to go home with, but if your dog is seriously ill, they may need intensive care in the veterinary hospital."

How can I protect my dog from lungworm?

The PDSA states that you can take steps to prevent lungworm with a range of de-worming products, which include protection against the parasite.

It goes on to say that dog owners should purchase de-worming treatment that are a veterinary licenced product as they offer more effective ingredients.