There are several types of worms that can infect our pets. Angiostrongylus vasorum known also as lungworm and French heartworm is a parasite that can live and infect the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the heart of wild and domestic canines – wolves, foxes, coyotes and dogs. It was discovered in Toulouse, France in 1853. Two cases have recently been found in Newfoundland and the parasite has the possibility of spreading.
The female worm releases eggs into the bloodstream which travel to the lungs. The eggs become larvae and pass into the airways of the lungs. When the animal coughs, some larvae are swallowed and eventually released through the feces.
Slugs and snails ingest the larvae in the stool. If a dog eats the slugs or snails, the ingested larvae find their way to the pulmonary arteries.
Some dogs do not exhibit any outward signs of being infected. But others can have a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, become lethargic, have vomiting and/or diarrhea. If blood clotting is affected, the dog can bleed in different parts of the body – stomach, chest, nose.
The good news if that French Heartworm is treatable. And it does not affect humans. It is not passed directly by dog to dog contact. It is preventable. This particular worm does not affect cats. At present the following are used for treatment:
Milbemycin oxime given once a week for 4 weeks
Advocate or Proheart topical
Fenbendazole given once a day for 5-21 days
Advantage Multi spot on
If your dog shows any symptoms of illness, please see your veterinarian.