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Lungworm Prevention for Dogs with Seizures

Updated: Mar 8

Lungworm Prevention for Dogs with Seizures

Dogs with epilepsy face unique challenges, including the risk of seizures triggered by various factors. While pet parents diligently manage their furry friends' epilepsy, another threat may lurk in the shadows: lungworm infection. Lungworms are parasites that can cause serious health issues in dogs, including respiratory problems and neurological symptoms. It is therefore highly recommended that all dogs in the UK have preventative treatment against lungworm infection to safeguard their well-being. In this article, we'll explore the importance of lungworm prevention, provide specifics for dogs with seizures, and provide tips for keeping your canine companion safe.

Lungworm Prevention for Dogs with Seizures


Understanding Lungworm Infection

Lungworms are a type of parasitic worm that primarily infects dogs and other canids. The most common species of lungworm affecting dogs is Angiostrongylus vasorum, also known as the French heartworm. Dogs become infected with lungworms by ingesting infective larvae, which can be found in contaminated environments or carried by intermediate hosts such as snails, slugs, or frogs hence why it is particularly important to keep up to date if your dog is a renowned scavenger. Even if your dog just munches on grass occasionally this could be enough to ingest unwanted slugs or snails.

Unlike with a tick or flea that you can see externally, lungworms are ingested and the larvae then migrate through the dog's body causing damage, reaching the heart and lungs, where they mature into adult worms. Lungworm infection can lead to a range of symptoms, including coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, weight loss, and neurological signs such as seizures, tremors, or paralysis.

Lungworm Prevention for Dogs with Seizures


Please discuss with your local vets whether your area is higher or lower risk, however as you can see from the chart below all of the UK has some degree of lungworm risk and therefore preventative treatment is warranted.


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Preventing Lungworm Infection in Dogs with Seizures

For dogs with epilepsy, preventing lungworm infection is essential to protect their overall health and reduce the risk of further seizure triggers. Here are some tips for preventing lungworm infection in seizure-prone dogs:

  1. Administer Preventative Medication: Speak to your veterinarian about the appropriate lungworm preventative medication for your dog. There are several options available, including monthly oral or topical treatments that can help protect your dog against lungworm infection. These medications may also provide protection against other common parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Some medications may have a risk of triggering seizures themselves so it is important to have this discussion with your veterinarian. If you choose the medication route rather than natural supplements and worm egg counts as discussed below, we advise against buying over the counter products at pet stores as they may not be as efficient nor as safe for your pet's health.

  2. Regular worm egg counts: As an alternative to regular treatment, some owners are choosing to regularly test their pets faeces for worms in order to treat only as and when it is needed to do so. The frequency of this testing is dependant on your own pets' risk factors (prevalence of worms in your geographical location, type of food fed e.g. raw-fed dogs are at a higher risk etc.). Watch this space as we have more information on worm egg counts to come! Please also note that a blood test is available at many veterinary practices for results within the hour if you are iminently worried about your dog having lungworm (IDEXX Angio Detect™).

  3. Practice Good Hygiene: Limit your dog's access to areas where lungworm larvae may be present, such as gardens with snails or slugs, stagnant water, or areas frequented by wildlife. Keep your dog's living environment clean and free from feces, which can attract intermediate hosts and increase the risk of infection.

  4. Supervise Outdoor Activities: When allowing your dog to roam outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas, keep a close eye on them to prevent them from ingesting snails, slugs, or other potential carriers of lungworm larvae. Avoid letting your dog drink from puddles or standing water, as these may be contaminated with infective larvae.

  5. Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for your dog, including fecal examinations and screenings for parasites. Early detection of lungworm infection allows for prompt treatment and minimises the risk of complications, including neurological symptoms such as seizures.

  6. Monitor for Symptoms: Keep a close watch on your dog for any signs of respiratory distress, coughing, lethargy, weight loss, or neurological symptoms such as seizures. If you notice any unusual symptoms, consult with your veterinarian promptly for evaluation and appropriate management.

For dogs with epilepsy, preventing lungworm infection is a critical aspect of maintaining their health and well-being. By administering preventative medication, practicing good hygiene, supervising outdoor activities, scheduling regular veterinary check-ups, and monitoring for symptoms, pet parents can help protect their seizure-prone pups from the potentially devastating effects of lungworm infection. If you have concerns about lungworm prevention or suspect that your dog may be infected, don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance and support. Together, we can keep our furry friends healthy, happy, and seizure-free.


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