Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

PetMD Seal

Lungworms in Dogs

ADVERTISEMENT

Parasitic Respiratory Infections in Dogs

 

Lungworms are a parasitic worm (nematode) that settles in the lungs and windpipe (trachea), causing severe respiratory problems. Dogs that spend a lot of time roaming in the woods and/or on fields are at higher risk of developing this type of parasitic infections.

 

Symptoms and Types

 

There are several species of worm that can migrate to the lungs of animals, causing coughing and shortness of breath. The parasite most commonly seen in dogs is the Oslerus osleri.

 

Adult worms create nodules in the windpipe of the animal and lay eggs. The larvae that hatch cause reactions in the airways, leading to obstruction of breathing. Complications can lead to more serious problems such as shortness of breath (dyspnea), bronchitis, emphysema, fluid build-up in the lungs, and even pneumonia.

 

Signs are not severe unless there are large numbers of larvae living in the airways. Minor infections that do not cause any signs are also possible. Dogs that have been previously infected with lungworms have a degree of immunity and may be able to fight off a re-infection if the load is not too great.

 

Causes

 

Dogs become infected with lungworms when they drink water or eat prey infected with the larval stage of the worm. The larvae then migrate out of the intestines via the bloodstream to the lungs, where they develop into adult worms and lay eggs in the host's lungs. The eggs are then coughed up by the animal or passed in feces, which may then be eaten by birds, rodents, snails, or other pets.

 

Puppies may also become infected by their mother (dam) when they are licked by or ingest feces from the infected dog.

 

Diagnosis

 

Tests to check if a dog has a lungworm infection include:

 

  • Physical examination (lung auscultation) and history
  • Chest X-rays
  • Fecal examination for eggs
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Examination of fluid from lungs (tracheal wash)

 

Treatment

 

Lungworms are treatable with anti-parasitic (anthelminthic) medications. Commonly used medications include:

 

  • Fenbendazole
  • Albendazole
  • Oxfendazole
  • Ivermectin
  • Moxidectin
  • Praziquantel
  • Levamisole

 

These medications should eradicate the worms over time and will help clear the animal of the infection. In severe cases, where secondary infections and lung damage have occurred, other medications such as corticosteroids or antibiotics may be necessary to help your pet recover.

 

Living and Management

 

An infection with lungworms does not typically last long. The dog often eliminates the worms by coughing them up or excreting them through the feces. Then, as long as the prescribed medication is given and the dog does not develop a secondary lung disease such as pneumonia, the prognosis is good.

 

In severe cases, repeat X-rays or fecal examinations may be needed to follow up.

 

Prevention

 

To prevent exposure to rodents, birds, or other animals which may carry the lungworm larvae, dogs should not be allowed to roam outdoors.

 

 

Related Articles

Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Dogs
Rhinitis refers to the inflammation of an animal's nose; sinusitis, meanwhile, refers...
READ MORE
Breathing Problem in Short-Nose Breed Dogs
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is the medical term related to various upper airway...
READ MORE
Sneezing, Reverse Sneezing (gasping in for ...
Sneezing refers to the normal behavior of expelling air to remove matter through...
READ MORE
  • Lifetime Credits:
  • Today's Credits:
Hurry Before All Seats are Taken!
Enroll
Be an A++ Pet Parent! Take fun & free courses to earn badges & certifications. Choose a course»
Around the Web
MORE FROM PETMD.COM