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Warning to Islington dog owners over killer parasite

PUBLISHED: 10:09 22 July 2011 | UPDATED: 10:29 22 July 2011

Staffordshire bull terrier MJ

Staffordshire bull terrier MJ

Archant

A family whose Staffordshire bull terrier died from a killer parasite are appealing to Islington’s dog owners to protect their pets.

Five-year-old MJ was put to sleep in June at the Harmsworth Memorial ­Animal Hospital in Sonderburg Road, Holloway, after succumbing to lungworm, a deadly parasite spread by snails and slugs.

Now the family are desperately trying to alert other owners to the menace – so they do not have to suffer the same devastating loss.

Mrs Pauline Colbert, 64, of Everleigh Street, Finsbury Park, bought MJ for her son Lee, 25, of nearby Holly Park Estate, off Holly Park. She said: “It started off with diarrhoea, and then she would not eat and got very weak.

“We rushed her to the Harmsworth but it was already too late and the vet said she had to be put to sleep.

“This lungworm is so easily picked up but people just don’t know about it. The vet said it’s rampant and other dogs have been put down.

“If people knew it was ­preventable it could save dogs’ lives.”

The parasite is thought to have spread to ­Islington and north London in the past few years. It lives in the heart and major blood vessels, affecting the lungs, and quickly ­becomes fatal.

Dogs can catch it by eating snails or slugs – or even by licking trail-covered grass or drinking from outdoor water bowls.

Vets say it is easily preventable with a drop on the back of the neck but too many owners are blissfully unaware of the danger.

Caroline Allen, clinical director at Dragon Veterinary Practice in Hornsey Road, Archway, said: “Lungworm is growing in Islington and it’s something every dog owner needs to know about.

“There are a lot of people who still don’t know about it. It can be difficult to diagnose, and by the time they show the signs they are often seriously unwell.”

She added that the drops need to be given about once a month and cost around £8 each.

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