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Thread: Rat Lungworm

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Default Rat Lungworm

    Does anyone have any experience with Rat Lungworm Disease in dogs? We have a 10 month old pup with hind leg issues. He was initially diagnosed by our local vet as having Hip Dysplasia but on referral to a veterinary specialist, that diagnosis has been overturned and they have suggested we consider getting a spinal tap done to eliminate Rat Lungworm as they think it's a likely cause of the lower spinal pain our pup has. I have searched on the internet but come up with very little information about how Rat Lungworm affects dogs and what the prognosis is after diagnosis and treatment, etc. If anyone has any hands-on experience with it, I would very much love to hear from you.

    (if this is in the inappropriate forum, please accept my apologies!)

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    SE QLD
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    Glad to see you decided to join! Although I have never heard of it either, hopefully some of our other members have

    There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

  3. #3
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    I've heard about the problem with eating slugs and snails - I think that's how the parasite gets transferred to humans, and then it can hurt like hell but there's no treatment.

    I would have thought a wormer might fix it, especially one that deals with worms in the blood stream. But you think they'd have tried that.

    So if you have rats and snails in your back yard, and your dog likes eating grass with snail trails or the slugs and snails themselves - then catching it is a possibility. And you can get it if you don't wash the snails and their trails off your garden fresh vegies.

    But I don't think it's very common, especially in southern (cold) bits of Australia.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    I've heard about the problem with eating slugs and snails - I think that's how the parasite gets transferred to humans, and then it can hurt like hell but there's no treatment.

    I would have thought a wormer might fix it, especially one that deals with worms in the blood stream. But you think they'd have tried that.

    So if you have rats and snails in your back yard, and your dog likes eating grass with snail trails or the slugs and snails themselves - then catching it is a possibility. And you can get it if you don't wash the snails and their trails off your garden fresh vegies.

    But I don't think it's very common, especially in southern (cold) bits of Australia.
    From what little info I have gathered, once the dog has chewed on the offending snail slime or rat/rat droppings the worm then migrates to the spinal chord and either travels up into the brain or down into the lower spine. The vet tells me it's not as easy as treating with a wormer because if the worms die in the spinal chord they "embolize" (I think that was the word) and create even more havoc. The dogs reaction to the worms is extreme inflamation and pain in the lower spine (if that's the way the worms travel) and they are treated with steriods to reduce that inflamation while the worm lives out it's life cycle. I'm not really sure how that "cures" the dog and didn't think to ask the specialist about that. The specialist seemed to think it was relatively common in Queensland pups but for something that is supposed to be common, I can find hardly ANY information on it's effect to a dogs quality of life after treatment. Nor have I been able to find anyone who knows much about it. The spinal tap is in the vicinity of $1200 so I was hoping to find out as much info as possible before we went ahead.

  5. #5
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    Adelaide
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    The info on the human infection - is that the worms don't cope well with being in a not-rat system so they eventually die. Not sure how you'd control where they die.

    Also - I treat my dog regularily with wormers for heart worm and all the others, so I don't know what would happen if one of those was actually effective against the rat lungworm and it died somewhere inappropriate. There is a similar problem for hydatids or tape worms if they migrate out of the gut into the blood stream (or anywhere else).

    The bad things that can happen to a dog in queensland scare the crap out of me.

  6. #6
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    Sep 2013
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    Queensland
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    I have just had my puppy at the vet for x-rays because he seems to have no strength in his rear legs. X-rays showed nothing and now he is being treated for Rat Lungworm, he has been prescribed tablets from the vet (i am unsure of the name). Our next option is to get the spinal tap.
    I have been searching everywhere for side effects of Rat Lungworm and can't seem to find anything. My dog is happy like normal just seems to be struggling in his rear, sitting awkwardly and not wanting to move.
    It's getting expensive to not be getting answers from the vet only possibilities of what it could be. What other symptoms do they show?
    It's heart breaking watching him.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    near Sydney NSW
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    Sorry to hear this Kels. I don't know anything about Rat Lungworm either. Please let us know how it all goes for your pup. I hope it's resolved quickly for him.

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