Nine CVS’ first opinion small animal practices to participate in Lungworm prevalence study

3rd Jan, 2024

  • Research

Results will help provide appropriate preventative health and treatment recommendations for dogs

Nine CVS practices in the South West of England are participating in a new study looking at the prevalence of the Lungworm parasite (Angiostrongylus vasorum) in their canine patients.

The study – being conducted by practices located across Bristol, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall – aims to increase data available on how many dogs in the region are affected, and which dogs are most at risk. This will enable CVS vets to provide the most appropriate preventative health and treatment recommendations to dogs and owners under their care.

Lungworm is a potentially fatal disease in dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm, which travels through the blood vessels, affecting organs such as their heart and lungs. Some dogs are reported to be asymptomatic and milder symptoms vary but can include coughing, breathing problems, vomiting or diarrhoea, weight loss, not wanting to exercise and loss of appetite.

Dogs contract lungworm by eating larvae found in infected snails, slugs or frogs. The disease is unable to pass directly from dog to dog, but foxes are considered a key intermediary host. However, as dogs and foxes pass the larvae in their faeces, this then infects more slugs and snails which can be eaten by more dogs, making the disease spread quickly. Evidence to date suggests the disease is more prevalent in the south of England.

The CVS practices will first offer clients and their canine pets a free-of-charge test for Lungworm, if their dog is coming in for a blood test for any reason. The test will be run by the participating practices on any residual blood left over from the main sample, with results returned within a few hours. If any dogs do test positive for Lungworm, the practices will immediately make contact with the owner to discuss appropriate treatment, which will be charged as normal.

Clients will also be asked to complete a short survey about their dog’s lifestyle – focusing on factors such as current worming treatment and frequency and reported clinical signs – to assess other risk factors for Lungworm. The survey will be accessible via a QR code, available in the practices’ consultation rooms. It can be completed by clients in the same time it takes the veterinary team to obtain a pet’s blood sample – meaning no additional time is spent in practice by clients and pets. The results of this survey will be used to assess factors that are associated with the identified positive cases, to support the practices in making risk-based decisions for lungworm prevention.

The study will be run by the participating practices from November 2023 until Spring 2024. It is expected to recruit almost 1,000 participants. The study is being funded by CVS, as part of its Clinical Research Grants. It has been fully approved by an independent ethics committee.

Emily Parr, Advanced Practitioner (Small Animal Medicine), CVS Regional Director and project lead said:

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“Lungworm is becoming more common in the UK, but unfortunately there is little current information about how many dogs in our local area are affected – and which dogs are at most risk. This led our practice colleagues and me to discuss how we could best serve our canine patients. As a result of this vet meeting, the research project was born.

 “This regional study will ensure we get a more accurate picture of the prevalence of the disease within our practice canine population in this geographic area. This will in turn enable us to provide the most appropriate recommendations for dogs under our care. If we can offer targeted advice on preventative measures, along with catching the disease early, we’ll be more effective at both preventing and treating this disease. 

 “This is a one-of-a-kind research project lead by general practitioners in general practice, with the aim of providing meaningful data, relevant to first opinion practice. It is part of taking our responsibilities seriously and providing the best care. If successful, we hope there will be the opportunity to expand it to more CVS practices across the country.” 

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CVS Group operates across small animal, farm animal, equine, laboratories and crematoria, with over 500 veterinary practices and referral centres in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands. In the last five years the company has invested nearly £80 million in its sites, facilities and equipment, in addition to industry leading training and support, to give the best possible care to animals. For more information about careers with CVS Group, visit