Hard-hitting new campaign featuring real dog owners highlights devastating impact of lungworm parasite
Dog owners and vets from across the UK have shared stories of the tragic cost of the lungworm parasite in an emotive TV ad. The advert, which launched today (February 29th) by Bayer, is part of a wider campaign highlighting the consequences of lungworm and raising awareness about the importance of prevention. Once the lungworm parasite is ingested, most commonly through eating slugs and snails, it can cause a dog’s health to rapidly deteriorate and even result in death.
Natasha Ravenscoft decided to share her story after her one-year-old Cocker Spaniel could sadly not be saved because of the sudden effects of lungworm.
"I first noticed Baxter was unwell when he collapsed out of the blue ... all of a sudden his legs went from underneath him,“ she explains. "His eyes started to swell up with blood. It was shocking – even the vet had not witnessed these conditions in a dog before, I was devastated“.
Natasha was spurred to become involved in the campaign – which includes social media activity, new materials for vets, and a presence at Crufts, alongside the TV advert – because she wanted to warn other owners of the importance of prevention against the parasite so Baxter "didn’t die in vain."
Natasha Ravenscroft with her dog Baxter who died from Lungworm at 1 year old.
The neccessity for prevention is becoming even more important; recent studies have found that lungworm has spread throughout much of the UK. A study from the University of Bristol which examined the fox population, whose faeces can spread lungworm larvae, suggested that the overall prevalence of lungworm in foxes is 18.3 per cent in the UK, which is significantly higher than in previous years. Additional research has confirmed that infectious larvae can be released into the slime trail left behind by slugs; this could present a threat for the transmission of the parasite to dogs. Vets are continuing to report cases of lungworm in their practices to be added to an interactive map tool, launched at the start of 2015, designed to show where incidences of lungworm have been picked up and where dogs could be at risk.
In light of the ever-growing need to communicate the threat of lungworm to dog owners, Bayer will embark on its most impactful take on its ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ campaign yet in launching the impactful nationwide TV advertisement. Donna Tomlinson, Senior Product Manager at Bayer said: “With the spread and increasing prevalence of lungworm in the UK, it is important to ensure the ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ 2016 campaign will resonate and encourage dog owners to take action to speak to their vet and ensure their dog is protected against the parasite.”
“We have invited dog owners from various regions of the UK who have experienced lungworm to tell their story, with powerful results. These stories will be used as a warning to highlight to all dog owners that there is a real chance lungworm could be present in their area, and to speak to their local vet about effective preventative treatment.”
‘Be Lungworm Aware’ will also have a strong presence at this year’s Crufts. Held at the NEC in Birmingham from the 10th-13th March, various activities will take place on a dedicated stand, from celebrities and vets sharing their lungworm experiences, to the first ever ‘snail hunt’. 150 model snails will be hidden throughout the NEC for visitors to find and be in with a chance to win a prize. The aim is to highlight the fact that lungworm-infected snails can be anywhere for a dog to find and ingest.
The ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ vet campaign materials are available for practices to display in waiting rooms, as well as leaflets to assist vets in communicating to dog owners the importance of protecting their dog against lungworm. These can be ordered via the Bayer Vet Centre (www.vetcentre.bayer.co.uk).
To find out more about the ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ 2016 activities and to view the real life lungworm stories, visit the campaign website www.lungworm.co.uk. Dog owners can check the risk in their area by visiting www.lungworm.co.uk/map. By simply searching their postcode owners can see reported cases in their area, or an area they are planning to visit.
To help educate dog owners about the infection and encourage vigilance of the tell-tale signs, the ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ campaign has been set up by Bayer Animal Health, experts in animal parasitology, offering support and education to owners and vets. Be Lungworm Aware is part of Bayer Animal Health’s wider ‘It’s a Jungle Out There’ parasite awareness initiative.