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Owner relieved as support dog recovers from dangerous parasite infection

10th April 2017

A dog owner from Westcliffe-on-Sea is warning other owners to be vigilant for signs of a serious parasite infection following the recovery of his support dog, Polito, from lungworm, an infection that is often fatal if not treated.

Mrs Caenetto from Westcliff-on-Sea suffers from epilepsy. Her two year old pug, Polito, supports her with her condition, warning her when a seizure is about to occur. On 11th March, Mr Caenetto noticed that Politio had become lethargic and had lost his appetite. His breathing also seemed irregular. Concerned, he took him to Earls Hall Veterinary Group where tests conducted by the veterinary team confirmed that he was suffering from lungworm, a parasite that lives in the heart and the blood vessels going to the lungs in dogs. Fortunately, they were able to treat Polito successfully while keeping him at home with Mrs Caenetto so that he could continue to support her.  He is now well on the road to recovery.

Earls Hall clinical director Dr Amy Murphy explained: “While still not widely known about, lungworm is now endemic in much of the UK with cases being reported most frequently in the south of the country. Slugs and snails carry the lungworm larvae and dogs can become infected when they eat these common garden pests whilst rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls or picking up toys left outside.”

She added: “Lungworm is a serious infection and the fact that Polito contracted it shows that it is a real threat in this area. It’s important for owners to be aware of it and, if they are concerned that their dogs are showing potential symptoms – for instance, a lack of interest in exercise, weight loss, a chronic cough and difficulty in breathing- they should contact their vet as soon as possible. We are always happy to provide advice on lungworm and other parasites and can test dogs quickly and easily for possible infection.”

Mr Caenetto said: “I treat Polito with a spot-on to control parasites but had no idea that it would not protect him against lungworm. It was such a shock to hear what was wrong with him and how serious it could be. I’m so grateful to have him home with me and recovering and urge other dog owners to make sure their pets are protected.”

Earls Hall Veterinary Group is based at 230 Prince Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea.