Lungworm is becoming much more common, and is now a risk to dogs and cats across much of the UK. Lungworm can be fatal and is very hard to treat once symptoms appear. A lungworm screen looks for larvae though you should always be aware of symptoms; coughing, fast, heavy and noisy breathing, weight loss, unexplained bruising and bleeding, seizures.
Lungworm larvae are invisible to the naked eye. If your dog or cat likes to eat grass, slugs or snails, lick from water left outside, or toys they are at risk of catching lungworm. Animals who eat a bird or animal who has eaten a snail or slug can also become infected.
How your dog or cat gets lungworm
Your dog or cat swallows the lungworm larvae which then leave the gut and migrate to the lungs via the blood. The larvae hatch into adult lungworms who then make their way up through the lungs. Your dog or cat coughs, swallows the lungworm which then passes out in their poo. If they get to the point where they’re coughing up lungworm they’re in serious trouble. Which is why diagnosis and early treatment are essential.
Do the lungworm test if
- Your dog/cat licks or eats grass, slugs or snails
- Or eats dead animals and birds
- Drinks water left outside, or plays with toys left outside
- You don’t worm your dog/cat at all
- You want to check that your regular worming schedule is providing cover
- You want to reduce the use of chemical worming treatments
- You raw feed your dog/cat
- You live in a lungworm hotspot
Benefits of a lungworm test
What's in the kit
- Inexpensively check for lungworm*
- Especially good if you can’t worm your dog/cat for any reason
- Full instructions
- Disposable gloves
- Collection spoons
- Smell proof bags
- Outer bag
- Freepost envelope
How to do a test:
Kits fit easily through your letterbox and don’t need signing for. Each kit contains three gloves, spoons and bags so you never have to reuse anything!
This is a three day test requiring three samples in total. Post the samples on day three to make sure they’re as fresh as possible when they arrive at the lab.
Open the kit. Take a sample of your dog/cats poo from that day using the small spoon provided. Put the sample into a smell proof bag, dispose of the spoon! Repeat for days two and three. Now put all three smell proof bags into the freezer bag the kit came in.
Leave your samples for days 1 and 2 somewhere shaded and cool, preferably a shed or under a plant pot.
Fill out your details on the enclosed form and put the lot into the Freepost bag. Post as soon after collecting the last sample as possible. Try to take the sample on Sunday to Thursday so the sample isn’t sitting in the post box for a couple of days.
There is no need to go to a post office, the sample will fit in any postbox.
The sample goes directly to the lab for testing. The results are emailed to you within 24/48 hours of receipt.
Lungworm screens can be done any time from 14 days after worming. We don’t recommend doing a test before 14 days has elapsed as the worming treatment you have used will need those 14 days to work.
If you don’t worm your dog or cat
Do a test any time, especially if you’re concerned lungworm may be present, or you live in or have visited a lungworm hotspot.
It is recommended you test for lungworm four times a year
*Bear in mind that larvae may only be present intermittently in the faeces and your pet may show clinical signs such as coughing prior to the larvae being present in the faeces. If you’re worried and if you know of Lungworm cases in your area a veterinary blood test is advisable.
This test is not intended as a replacement for worming your pet in the first place. It is merely a way of monitoring the worm egg burden of your dog or cat and treating accordingly. Many owners choose to worm their pets while others never do, which is entirely your decision.
Worming puppies and kittens
Always worm puppies and kittens by following a veterinary flea and worming schedule as they will have inherited a parasite burden from their mother, and not to do so can pose a serious health risk to very young animals. Lungworm tests can be done from 16 weeks.