Deadly parasite leaves Benny battling for his life

PDSA vets saved a Beagle after he was fighting for his life when he contracted lungworm, a parasite which is becoming increasingly common in the UK.

Thanks to the charity vets, Benny the Beagle from Draycott from Derby is now back on all four paws and making a recovery at home.

Benny’s owner Heather Pulfrey said: “At first he was suffering from sickness and diarrhoea, which lasted for a couple of days, but I got really worried when his breathing became heavy and laboured. He was wheezing, coughing and lethargic and I knew something was wrong.

“I’ve recently been made redundant from my job and had no idea what to do. I was worried about costs and how I’d afford to take him to the vets. But a friend told me that PDSA might be able to help. I called them and they did a phone consultation, after which they told me to bring him straight in.”

Benny was taken to the Derby PDSA Pet Hospital, where emergency vets were on standby to provide life-saving care to pets during coronavirus crisis.

PDSA Vet Anna Atkins said: “We were concerned about his heavy breathing, and his symptoms suggested a possible lungworm infection, so we ran a number of tests to investigate, X-rays revealed an abnormality in his lungs so we knew there was definitely something sinister going on for poor Benny.”

Benny stayed in overnight where his breathing was monitored closely, and he was kept on a drip.

Anna continued: “The next day our tests came back to confirm he had the lungworm parasite, so it was a good job Heather brought Benny in as it could have been fatal if he hadn’t received treatment when he did.”

Benny was given medication and sent home to recover but his breathing took a turn for the worse and was readmitted.

Heather said: “Benny is everything to me, so I spent a lot of time crying worried I was going to lose him. He was in a bad way for a number of weeks but thankfully he’s slowly on the road to recovery.

“I didn’t really know what lungworm was so I couldn’t believe it could have killed him. I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way.” Heather added. “Now I’ll always make sure he’s fully protected and would urge other to do the same.”

Anna added: “Dogs can catch lungworm from eating infected slug, snails and frogs but also, and more rarely from playing with toys in the garden which slugs and snails have been on. Slugs and snails are most commonly eaten when dogs eat grass.

“Symptoms of lungworm include coughing and breathing problems, weight loss, seizures, blindness and bruising caused by blood clotting problems. It’s important to call your vet immediately if your dog is showing these symptoms.”

Owners are advised to call their vet first if they think their pet may need emergency care as they will have strict social distancing measures in place which will need to be followed.