Fears have been raised over a spike in reported cases of a potentially deadly dog disease in Harrogate.
Cases of lungworm infection are extremely rare in the north of England, with just five suspected cases reported in all of Yorkshire since the start of 2015.
But four of them were in Harrogate and, as a fifth puppy Rufus was confirmed to have been suffering from the disease last week, vets are warning that the parasite may be present in local parks and gardens.
“We have seen a growing number of cases within our practice, and it is becoming more apparent that the parasite is becoming more widespread across the UK,” said Kenneth Alexander, veterinary surgeon at East Park Vets in the town.
One puppy, Rufus, an eight-month-old Norfolk terrier, was taken to East Park Vets after he developed a persistent cough and was gagging uncontrollably.
“Rufus is a very lucky puppy to have been brought to our surgery as quickly as he was, before more severe lungworm symptoms may have developed,” said Mr Alexander.
“It could have been a different story. Thankfully he has made a good recovery.
“Rufus likes to eat slugs and snails on occasion which is what prompted us to test him for lungworm.”
Lungworm can be contracted by dogs after they accidentally swallow infected slugs or snails, or potentially even after swallowing the slime of an infected slug.