We spoke to dog owners and vets from all parts of the country who had first-hand experiences of lungworm. They were all keen to tell their story, and although incredibly upsetting in some cases, all have an important message to share with other dog owners.
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Natasha Ravenscroft, from Manchester
“Since losing Baxter, I have been pro-active on social media as much as possible to help spread the message of the potentially devastating effects lungworm can have on dogs. I just want to help spread awareness so that Baxter’s death wasn’t in vain. If vets and dog owners can be more aware of lungworm, less dogs will have to suffer and go through what Baxter did.”
Alan Lee & Ruth Hutchinson, from Nottingham
“We’ve found that people we’ve tried to talk to about lungworm are very stubborn. They’re all very blasé and apathetic towards the illness and just see it as an extra cost every month for their pet. We can assure you, if they went through what we went through, they would pay a thousand times more to cover their dog every month. If Angus’ ordeal saves even one other dog’s life it will be worth our while to tell our story. We don’t want our dog to have died in vain.”
Emily Merlow, from Southampton
“Watching Tom deteriorate was horrible. I’d seen the posters in the vet’s waiting room but didn’t think it would happen to my dog. My vet explained lungworm can be fatal to dogs and I realised how lucky we were that we caught it when we did. I’m very vocal about Tom’s story with other dog walkers and with friends who own dogs, I tell them that they should be protecting against lungworm. Because all of the stories that I have seen are stereotypical of the disease it is important for me to tell Tom’s story because with him he went lame and didn’t have the usual symptoms”.
Dr Simon Hayes BVM&S MRCVS – Village Vet, North London
"My practice saw one of the first cases of lungworm in London, so it is something which has been on my radar for a number of years.
Having seen multiple cases of lungworm, some fatal, I feel strongly that UK dogs should be protected against the parasite to prevent unnecessary deaths. It is the duty of the veterinary profession to promote responsible pet ownership and to be at the forefront of knowledge on the spread of lungworm.
We know that lungworm is definitely present in the UK, and we are at risk of it becoming more prevalent if vets do not act against it. It is for these reasons that I was happy to be involved with the ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ campaign, as a platform from which I can help educate pet owners and my peers in the veterinary profession.
Currently very few clients will come into my practice asking about lungworm specifically. It is my hope that this campaign will help encourage more pet owners to take notice of lungworm, and feel confident in initiating a positive discussion on parasite prevention with their vet."
Kate Fassam, from West Sussex
“When I found out Darcy had lungworm I was in complete shock, my whole world collapsed and left a massive gap in my life. He missed out on so much, all because he wasn’t covered for lungworm. Unfortunately, I didn’t know at the time but lungworm is a very real risk and it really is here.“
Annalisa Collins, from Sussex
“I had never heard about lungworm before and I couldn’t believe that there isn’t that much awareness of it. That’s why I’m trying to do everything I can to talk about it. When I go out walking I always talk to people and mention that my dog had lungworm, it can be deadly and you need to protect against it. I try to help others because I don’t want them to have to go through what we went through.”
Linda Firth & Alan Firth, from Nottingham
“We were devastated and blamed ourselves when Clara was unwell but were ultimately unaware of lungworm. It’s something that dog owners have got to treat very seriously, you need to see your vet and you need to make sure your dog is wormed for lungworm on a regular basis.”
Talia Skaarbrevik, from North London
"The diagnosis of lungworm took me completely by surprise and I felt helpless as I had not heard of lungworm before. When I go out on my walks with Max I always talk to other dog owners to spread the word about lungworm, it’s almost a mission. It is important to me to prevent other dog owners going through what I did, with my dog, seeing him suffer and the horrible fear of losing him."