Slugs and snails might seem harmless (although gross) to us, but they can be quite deadly for our dogs.
If you have a curious puppy or younger dog who is starting to show severe pain in their spine, weakness and an abnormal walk, they could have a case of Canine Neural Angiostrongylus, also known as Rat Lung Worm infection.
This serious condition usually affects puppies or younger dogs that eat a snail or slug carrying the parasite and become infected, like five month old Labrador Roxy.
Roxy’s owners became worried when she became weak in her hind limbs, painful, lethargic and lost the wag in her powerful tail, leaving it uncharacteristically limp.
Symptoms can also include incontinence and the weakness in their back legs progressing to the front.
She was seen by the team at one of our excellent referring Vet Hospitals, Willoughby Veterinary Hospital who were equally concerned. After initial investigation and treatment they referred Roxy to SASH. Spinal fluid was collected and revealed a large number of inflammatory cells, which confirmed the Rat Lung Worm infection.
After being given pain relief and anti-inflammatory steroids, Roxy improved quickly, and her treatment continued at Willoughby North Veterinary Clinic.
We are now pleased to report that Roxy is doing very well at home.
Over time she will be gradually weaned off her steroid dose as the inflammation subsides until she is able to completely come off the treatment.
At SASH, we’ve been seeing an increased number of Rat Lung Worm infection cases. Make sure to take your pet to the vet if you are concerned, as the infection can lead to longer term and even permanent neurological deficits. With appropriate treatment though, most dogs make full recoveries – like little Roxy!