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Slimy Autumn Dangers – Lungworm & Anti freeze

Through the eyes of your pet, there are so many exciting, interesting things lurking outside the comfort of your home, especially this time of year! Dogs, and certainly some cats too, love to sniff around and get their nose stuck into these tempting discoveries. But before your dog darts out the door or your cat charges out the cat flap, it is worth making note of these dangers so that you can ensure your pet stays safe this season, and throughout their autumnal adventures.

Slugs, snails and even frogs, are a few of the slimy, creepy creatures that may pique your pets interest. Whilst generally, these creatures do not cause any serious issues, they can be dangerous should your pet ingest them. If your dog ends up consuming a slug or a snail carrying the parasite lungworm, it could potentially cause coughing, breathlessness, weight loss, reduced appetite and diarrhoea. In more serious cases, it could cause bleeding and/ or fits. If you notice your pet is suffering from any of the above symptoms, it is important to contact your veterinary practice immediately.

How to prevent lungworm caused by slugs and snails.


We strongly advise against your pooch playing, or running, with sticks. Not only is it a highly common claim concern, but sticks can also be covered in snail and slug slime. You could also prevent contamination by ensuring your dog’s water bowls and toys are brought inside every evening. Remember, they do not physically have to eat the actual slug, snail or frog to become infected with lungworm. Any pet that has access to environments where slugs and snails are present can come into contact with lungworm larvae – and there are close to 20,000 slugs and snails in the average UK garden!

Conkers may also carry snail and slug slime. Similar to sticks, conkers can also prove to be hazardous for your dog as they may try to run with the conker or stick in their mouth, especially if they love playing catch. Not only this, but conkers are very toxic to dogs as they contain a poison called aesculin. If your dog has ingested a conker, you would normally be able to see symptoms between one and six hours after ingestion, however it could take up to two days for symptoms to show. If you’re ever in doubt, always speak to a veterinary professional.


The cat lungworm parasite is different from the dog lungworm parasite, so whilst it could still cause problems, feline lungworm is generally less severe than canine lungworm. Your cat could come in to contact with feline lungworm through playing with slugs and snails, and also birds and mice. If your cat is a particularly keen hunter, they could be more prone to picking up feline lungworm. Kittens could also be infected with lungworm larvae before birth, or through their mothers milk.

Some of the symptoms of feline lungworm are similar to canine lungworm, however feline lungworm could also cause discharge from the nose and pneumonia. It is extremely rare for feline or canine lungworm to be transmitted to humans.

Of course though, we believe prevention is better than cure, so taking out a Pet Health Plan could provide your pet with regular monthly treatment to keep your cat and dog safe from the parasite. This would depend on what the individual veterinary practice offers, but the majority should include regular flea and worming treatments.

Anti-freeze poisoning

Anti-freeze is incredibly toxic to cats. Sadly, every year cats become fatally ill from anti-freeze poisoning. Anti-freeze contains ethylene glycol which unfortunately has a sweet taste, attracting animals. It is important to be aware of anti-freeze spillages, especially as it is used more frequently this time of year. Spillages can very easily get on to your cats paws, meaning they ingest the antifreeze as they clean themselves.

Cats only need to drink a teaspoon of the antifreeze to receive a fatal dose. This is why it is so important to always clean up spillages quickly and thoroughly to prevent your cat, or other animals ingesting it.  

Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, seizures and loss of balance, eventually causing severe kidney damage. Kidney damage can develop within 30 minutes so you should take them to a vet immediately if you suspect your cat has drunk antifreeze, so they can do a blood and urine exam on them.

Darker evenings

As the darker evenings draw in, you must ensure both yourself and your dog are visible when out for their evening walks. Reflective LED collars, harnesses and coats can certainly help you and your dog to be seen by other road users. Whilst you may find a reflective collar also works for your cat, it is best to keep them indoors when it is dark, as they tend to dart out and go unseen to drivers. Ensuring your pet is microchipped is essential, as you will be more likely to find them again should they go missing. For dogs, it is the law to ensure they are microchipped and registered by the age of eight weeks.

Click here to read our other article on Slimy Autumn Dangers – Halloween and Fireworks!