The prob­lem: Breed­ing dogs and new reg­u­la­tions

“I have a re­ally good black Labrador that I would like to have a lit­ter from and keep back a puppy. Any oth­ers from the lit­ter I will sell and use the profit and have the puppy pro­fes­sion­ally trained. How­ever, a friend has told me that there is some new l

Sporting Gun - - Gundogs Breeding - M DAVIES, POWYS

The causes

Your friend is right. On 1 Oc­to­ber the An­i­mal Wel­fare Reg­u­la­tions 2018 came into force and there are spe­cific sec­tions re­lat­ing to the breed­ing of dogs. There are some boxes that need to be ticked: • Has your bitch proved her­self in the field? Too many dogs that have in­her­ent faults are bred from each year. She should be quiet when sit­ting at a peg or pick­ing-up, she should have a soft mouth and be a nat­u­ral re­triever. • Have you had any health tests done? You should have the dog’s hips and el­bows X-rayed and scored and her eyes tested. If these come back with ac­cept­able re­sults, you can be sat­is­fied that you will be breed­ing from phys­i­cally sound stock.

The most “fash­ion­able” stud dogs may not nec­es­sar­ily be the most suit­able match for your bitch. So do some home­work and, if pos­si­ble, go to see the dog be­fore your bitch comes into sea­son. Ob­vi­ously, the dog should also be health tested.

EX­PERT AD­VICE: from SG’S gun­dog guru Gra­ham Watkins

If you have gone through the process of health test­ing and found a suit­able sire for your bitch, you should fa­mil­iarise your­self with the new reg­u­la­tions. They re­late to the breed­ing of dogs as rel­e­vant to your

re­cently. Where I am in west Scot­land we never bothered about the dis­ease, but we have had a rude awak­en­ing with, for ex­am­ple, a boxer who bled sig­nif­i­cantly af­ter rou­tine surgery. He and his house­mate turned out to be pos­i­tive for lung­worm.


Lung­worm (some­times more cor­rectly re­ferred to as French heart­worm) is caused by a par­a­site called An­giostrongy­lus va­so­rum. The adult worms live cosily in the blood ves­sels close to the heart, oc­ca­sion­ally pro­duc­ing sub­stances that can pre­vent the blood clot­ting, es­pe­cially if there are large num­bers of them. They lay eggs that hatch into lar­vae and then bur­row through the walls of the blood ves­sels into the lungs. The dog then coughs these up and swal­lows them and they pass un­harmed through the in­testines and out in fae­ces. When fae­ces are not prop­erly scooped, along comes a slug or snail who in­gest the lar­vae and then crawl into food bowls or onto toys, hide in the grass

to be eaten and gen­er­ally make them­selves avail­able to in­fect your un­sus­pect­ing dog. Back in the dog, the lar­vae mi­grate to the blood ves­sels and ma­ture into adults so the whole life­cy­cle be­gins again.


Once con­fined to south­ern Eng­land, lung­worm has been spread­ing in­ex­orably north­wards, abet­ted by in­creased move­ment of dogs, the spread of slugs and snails in soil and plants, cli­mate change and your trusty fox, which has been ur­banised, bring­ing him into greater con­tact with dogs. The over­all in­ci­dence of lung­worm in foxes has in­creased from 7% in 2006 to 18% in 2014 and Mark Fox (I am not mak­ing this up), Pro­fes­sor of Vet­eri­nary Par­a­sitol­ogy at the Royal Vet­eri­nary Col­lege, found that 74% of foxes in the Greater Lon­don area were in­fected. A re­cent study by Glas­gow Univer­sity Vet School, in which slugs and snails in lo­cal pub­lic parks were col­lected and an­a­lysed, showed that around 10% were in­fected.


Many in­fected dogs re­main symp­tom­less but the most com­mon clin­i­cal sign is cough­ing. This may be pro­duc­tive or non-pro­duc­tive and can be as­so­ci­ated with mild to mod­er­ate breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. Less com­mon (but more se­vere) con­se­quences of lung­worm in­fec­tion are ab­nor­mal­i­ties of co­ag­u­la­tion. These man­i­fest as anaemia, haematomas (blood blis­ters) neu­ropathies and/or an in­creased risk of post-op­er­a­tive and post­trau­matic bleed­ing. The lat­ter two are clearly an is­sue for work­ing dogs and hence the rea­son for your vet of­fer­ing the test. Per­haps he has seen a spate of re­cent cases and, quite rightly, is screen­ing for pos­i­tive cases be­fore he uses his scalpel. Cer­tainly, should the sit­u­a­tion get worse, we may con­sider do­ing the same. The test can be done quickly in-house and is very ac­cu­rate.


An­giostrongy­lus va­so­rum can be pre­vented and treated by the use of spe­cific spo­ton prepa­ra­tions con­tain­ing mox­idectin and im­i­da­clo­prid given monthly and by milbe­mycin oxime tablets given orally (weekly for four weeks for treat­ment and monthly for pre­ven­tion). Fen­ben­da­zole (Panacur) is also ef­fec­tive at 50mg/kg daily for up to 21 days but it is un­li­censed for this.


You pays your money and you takes your choice. Lung­worm is a real threat to dogs and is in­creas­ing in en­demic ar­eas and emerg­ing in oth­ers. If you are com­fort­able with your pre­ven­tion strat­egy, you could avoid the blood test. As I said, ask your vet what he or she would do if it was their dog. Or just cough up for the test.

“Lung­worm has been spread­ing due to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of slugs and snails and your trusty fox”

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