Our regular feature focusing on the work of North-East veterinary specialists Wear Referrals this week tackles the topic of worms...

ALMA, a one-year-old female pointer, was referred as an emergency appointment to our internal medicine department at Wear Referrals with a history of difficulty breathing.

Investigations at her local vets revealed a severely abnormal lung pattern on x-ray, and fluid from her lungs revealed possible worms.

Alma stopped breathing under anaesthesia, requiring sudden termination of her anaesthetic, and she was transferred to Wear Referrals immediately.

She was examined and cared for by Chiara Giannasi, one of our internal medicine clinicians at Wear Referrals.

Alma was in respiratory distress when she arrived and was placed in our intensive care unit.

She required constant 24-hour nursing and veterinary care.

Further tests confirmed Alma was infected with Angiostrongylus Vasorum (lung worm).

A heart scan by our cardiologist, Brian Love, confirmed she had pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure within the pulmonary arteries that lead from the right side of the heart to the lungs) and emergency treatment was required.

Alma was wormed carefully over several days to prevent killing too many worms at once leading to anaphylactic shock.

She also required medication to lower the pressure within the heart and combat the inflammation within her chest.

Pleasingly Alma recovered well and was discharged after almost a week in our intensive care unit.

We frequently see dogs infected with lungworm in the UK.

Infection in dogs is associated with ingestion of slugs and snails, and regular worming can help prevent infection.

Symptoms of lungworm can include lethargy, breathing difficulty and problems clotting blood.