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Posts Tagged ‘prevention’

Parasites: Lungworm (Angiostrongylus Vasorum)

Milton Keynes Veterinary Group
Lungworm otherwise known as Angiostrongylus Vasorum is on the rise in the UK and Milton Keynes Veterinary Group have already seen two cases earlier this year.
  • Those slimy garden critters (slugs and snails) are involved in spread of Lungworm, therefore dogs that eat these slimy garden critters will be at a higher risk of contracting this parasite. It is though that an average UK garden can inhabit over 20,000 slugs and snails.
  • It is highly recommended to not leave toys or water bowls outside to minimise exposure to these slimy critters.
  • Foxes can also become infected with Lungworm and play a part in spread of this parasite.
  • All dogs of all ages and breeds are susceptible to contracting this parasite.
  • Dogs that become infected with Lungworm will also spread it within the environment as larvae are excreted within the pet’s faeces, increasing risk of exposure to other dogs. Therefore it is very important to make sure you pick up your dog’s poo.
With cases increasing of this parasite, it is important to know the symptoms, follow advice on minimising exposure and how to prevent exposure.

Symptoms of this parasite can vary between cases, however the most common symptoms may include; coughing, lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, excess bleeding from minor wounds or seizures. Diagnosis of this parasite can be determined through either a faecal test or blood test.

Prevention is key with lungworm, by treating your pet with monthly prescription only worming treatment, contact us if you have any concerns via email at questions@mkvetgroup.co.uk or wish to order your pet’s preventative treatment visit www.mkvetgroup.co.uk/repeat-prescriptions/. Our Healthy Pet Care plans include covers against this parasite as well as many other parasites and diseases through a simple monthly direct debit.
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Heatstroke – Rabbits

Heat stroke is not something just seen in dogs and cats, rabbits can also suffer from heat stroke. The ideal environmental temperature for a rabbit’s enclosure is between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius. Rabbits are unable to cope well with sudden changes of temperature and can start showing signs of heatstroke even at 22 degrees Celsius.

Recognising signs of heatstroke in rabbits is very important, these may include lethargy, panting, salivating, weakness, reddening of the ears. Disorientation, seizures and can in some cases be fatal. Warmer weather can also mean a higher risk of flystrike, therefore it is also important to check your rabbit’s bottom and make sure the hutch is cleaned regularly.

Some ideas to help keep your rabbits cooler in the higher temperatures can include
  • Wiping water onto their ears
  • Place a damp towel over the enclosure
  • Provide plenty of cold water
  • Freeze bottles of water or ice parks
  • Allow them access to an area of stone or ceramic tiles to lie on
  • Create plenty of shade for them
  • You can even purchase specialist cage fans to keep them cool
If you are concerned your rabbit is experiencing signs of heat stroke, please contact your vet immediately.
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Pesky Parasites – Endoparasites and your dog

The most common endoparasites that dogs can be susceptible to are also roundworms and tapeworms. Your pet may not show signs of infection with mild burdens, however with heavy burdens they may experience weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and failure to thrive.

Some of these worms can cause infections in humans and we advise it is important to regular treat your dog to prevent these parasites.

There are two common roundworms in dogs Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina. Eggs are passed in the faeces and are able to remain viable in the environment for several years. Infection to other animals may either be through ingestion of eggs from contaminated ground or ingestion of an intermediate host (e.g. mouse or bird) that are infected. Toxocara canis can also be passed from mother to the puppies via the placenta or milk, the worms will migrate through the tissues including the liver and lungs before entering the intestines where it will become an adult worm.

Hookworms (Ancylostoma Caninum) are more common within other countries throughout the world. These worms are able to hatch into larvae on the ground and penetrate skin on contact. They can also be passed onto the puppy via the placenta or milk from the mother. They can cause signs of emaciation, blood loss, diarrhoea, dehydration and failure to thrive. Uncinaria Stenocephala is also a hookworm associated with dogs but it causes less clinical disease.

These tapeworms will tend to be referred to a resembling a ‘grain of rice’. Tapeworms are long flat worms consisting of many segments and mature segment holding eggs will be released from the end of the tapeworm and passed in the faeces. These ‘grains of rice’ may be visible around the animal’s anus, in the faeces or on the pet’s bed. Dipylidium caninum has an intermediate host of the flea and your cat could become infected through the ingestion on a flea. Taenia is morely commmonly seen in cats but dogs can also become infected through the ingestion of an infected intermediate host such as a mouse or bird.

Adult Whipworm (Trichuris vulpis) live within the large intestine and will attach to the gut wall by burrowing their heads into the gut lining. They can reach up to 2-3 inches in length and dogs become infected by ingesting the egg stage of the lifecycle. Older dogs are more at risk of having a whipworm burden. Signs of a burden may include bloody diarrhoea, anaemia, dehydration and tiredness. By keeping up with regular worming and cleaning up after your dog you will minimise the risk of exposure.

Heartworms (Dirofilaria) are associated more with dogs that travel abroad. They are transmitted by mosquitos and are very thin, thread-worms reaching up to around 30cm long. Symptoms of infection can vary from mild signs such as an occasional cough, coughing more regularly when exercising; to more severe signs as losing weight, laboured breathing, finding exercise difficult, and most can develop caval syndrome where the sheer number of worms can block the flow of blood into the heart.

Our general advice regarding worming of your dog, is that puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks from 3 weeks of age until 8 weeks, then it is recommended to treat monthly until 6 months of age. After 6 months, worming will depend on certain factors such as outdoor access, scavenging, and the presence of children or other vulnerable people with the household. These individuals should be treated more regularly as they will be classed as a higher risk and it is also advised to use a product to treat against fleas to minimise the risk of tapeworm.
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Pesky Parasites – Angiostrongylus Vasorum (Lungworm)


Lungworm otherwise known as Angiostrongylus Vasorum in dogs, and Aelurpstrongylus Abstrusus in cats. This parasite resides in the heart and pulmonary arteries and can therefore be fatal. There has been an increase in recorded canine Lungworm cases, but it is still less common than other dog parasites such as flea, ticks and worms. Feline lungworm cases are currently rare, but more cases are confirmed each year.


Dogs become infected by this parasite through the ingestion of infected slugs and snails. You may not necessary see your pet ingest any slugs or snails, as they may do it accidently when eating grass or drinking from outdoor water bowls. Cats who hunt birds and rodents will be at a higher risk of ingesting this parasite.


Lungworm can be diagnosed by:
  • Blood test
  • Faecal test
  • X-ray
  • Bronchoscopy


Canine symptoms can vary between cases, the most common signs are: coughing, lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, excess bleeding from minor wounds and seizures.
Felines may never show signs that they are affected by Lungworm, however if symptoms do occur they can include coughing, difficulty breathing and poor body condition.


Treatment is available for Lungworm cases in the form of a monthly prescription only treatment, which kills the L4 Lungworm larvae as well as other intestinal worms and fleas. However, in severe cases, this condition may be hard to treat.

PREVENTION IS KEY with Lungworm.

Here are some tips to help
  • Pick up the poop – Lungworm larvae is passed out in your pets faeces and therefore picking up after our pets prevents spread of the parasites
  • Pick up their toys – toys that left outdoors will be exposed to slugs and snails, increasing the risk of parasite spread
  • Don’t leave their food and water bowls outside – these will be exposed to slugs and snails increasing risk to your pet.
  • Monthly prescription only worming treatment will protect your pet against Lungworm and reduce its spread. Not all spot on treatments treat against Lungworm, so please contact us for advice. Unfortunately at present, there is no licensed preventive treatment for cat lungworm. Lungworm prevention for dog is included in our Pet Health Care plans.
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