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Vet warns dog owners after rare deadly disease hits Merseyside; One Wirral family nearly lost their beloved pet to the disease.

Byline: Lottie Gibbons

A rare and deadly dog disease has reached Merseyside, with one vet issuing a warning to dog owners after aWirral family almost lost their beloved pet.

Eight-year-old black Labrador, Boo, isrecovering from lungworm, which is linked to parasites found in common garden slugs and snails.

It was a lucky escape for Boo, as once the tiny parasites are ingested, they make their way to a dog's heart and lungsand can prove fatal.

With very few reported cases of lungworm in the north west, vet Dylan Payne of Acorn Veterinary Centre inWest Kirby, is now urging all dog owners to be aware of the symptoms of the disease.

He said: "Lungworm is not very common and only affects dogs and not people, but as the climate gets warmer, we do expect to see more cases."

Typical symptoms of the infection in dogs include coughing, loss of appetite, losing weight and becoming generally unwell.

He continued: "Fortunately, lungworm is a preventable disease and prevention really is the best approach."

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"The best thing to do is to talk to your vet about methods to protect your dog through regular worming and if you are concerned in anyway about your dog's health, do get them checked out."

Boo's owner, Mike Cockburn, 51, from West Kirby, believes she may have picked the condition up by eating windfall apples which she is known to scavenge while out on a walk.

Mike, said the first he really knew there was a problem was when he took Boo to Acorn Veterinary Centre after she started to rapidly lose weight.

He had been away for the weekend with his wife Lisa and their two children, Kieron, 13, and 11-year-old Sophie, and left Boo and their other Labrador Bessie with his sister.

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When he went to collect his two pets, he noticed that Boo was quieter than normal and looked a little slimmer.

Mike said: "We have had Boo since she was a pup and like all Labradors, she has an insatiable appetite.

"But she suddenly couldn't eat properly which was strange -- she was just licking her food and couldn't seem to chew or crunch anything hard.

"We changed her food to chicken and rice, and whereas she would normally wolf this down, it took her two or three goes to eat it."

More symptoms then started to emerge -- Boo was losing weight quite rapidly, she was drinking a lot of water and was lethargic out on her walks.

But it was when Boo stopped bringing them soft toys from their daughter's bedroom as a 'gift' -- something she would do each morning -- that the Cockburns knew something was really wrong.

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The team at Acorn organised for her to have a full scan and noticed what they thought was a spot on her lung and referred her to specialists at Leahurst Veterinary Hospital for more tests.

Mike said: "We could see our lovely, bright dog was getting sicker and more withdrawn and it was really upsetting to see."

At first, it was suspected she had thoracic cancer but further tests detected the spot on her lung again and lungworm was later diagnosed.

Mike said: "It was such a relief to hear it wasn't cancer but then we were told Boo was still in a serious situation with the lungworm, so it was all a bit of a rollercoaster."

Boo was immediately put on a two-week course of strong wormer and to the relief of Mike and his family, was allowed home to recover under the care of the Acorn vet team.

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Mike said: "Within a few days Boo started to eat properly and get back her strength. Over the last six weeks she has pretty much put most of her weight back on and is almost back to her old, playful self.

"She can still get a little stiff after a walk and has regular check-ups at the Acorn surgery, but she is definitely on the mend."

CAPTION(S):

Credit: Acorn Veterinary Centre

Eight-year-old black Labrador Boo is recovering from lungworm

Credit: Acorn Veterinary Centre

The blacker sections are the lung fields which should show as completely black. The fact there is some white suggests there is fluid on the chest and that something is wrong.

Credit: Acorn Veterinary Centre.

Owner Mike Cockburn (left) is pictured with his beloved Boo and vet Dylan Payne of Acorn Veterinary Centre.

Credit: Acorn Veterinary Centre

Vet Dylan Payne of Acorn Veterinary Centre is pictured checking Boo over.
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Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2019
Words:789
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