Dog owners in Suffolk are being warned about a deadly disease that is 'spreading fast' across the country. 

Lungworm, a type of parasitic worm which affects dogs and foxes, lives in the heart and major blood vessels supplying the lungs.

If left untreated, it can be fatal to dogs.

East Anglian Daily Times: The cases of lungworm reported within a 50-mile radius of IpswichThe cases of lungworm reported within a 50-mile radius of Ipswich (Image: My Pet and I)

A total of 80 cases of lungworm have been reported within a 50-mile radius of Ipswich. 

The data has been compiled by pet health company, My Pet & I, and comes as vets in the country warn of the dangers of the parasite amid rising rates of infection.

What is lungworm?

Lungworm is a parasite that can cause serious health problems in your pet and can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated.

Infected dogs and foxes spread the parasite into the environment via lungworm larvae released in their faeces.

Slugs and snails then ingest the larvae while feeding. Other dogs and foxes can become infected with lungworm when they swallow these slugs/snails or potentially slime.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of the infection include: coughing, changes in breathing or struggling to breathe, going off food, upset stomach with vomiting and/or diarrhoea, weight loss, tiredness, unexplained or excessive bruising, pale gums and bleeding.

How to prevent your dog catching lungworm

  • Regular worming treatments
  • Picking up your dog’s faeces quickly. This will help prevent the spread of lungworm
  • Removing toys and bowls from the garden overnight so they are not exposed to slugs and snails
  • Changing the water in water bowls frequently

Lungworm cannot be transmitted to humans.