A warning has been issued after a dog in Merton was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

Diamond, a 12-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier, was brought into the Blue Cross animal hospital in Merton Road by her owners after she had been suffering with a persistent cough.

X-rays revealed abnormalities in her lungs and a lungworm parasite was found within mucus samples, highlighting a heavy infection.

Following the diagnosis the veterinary team began life-saving treatment.

Elise Cordell RVN, deputy nurse manager at Merton Blue Cross, said: “When Diamond came into the hospital we thought we were just treating a simple cough.

"However a chest x-ray revealed we were dealing with something much more concerning.

“Luckily we were able to catch the lungworm infection in time and begin a course of treatment before her symptoms became fatal.

"Despite treatment, the damage to Diamond’s lungs has not completely resolved, and she has needed ongoing supportive treatment.”

Slugs and snails carry the lungworm larvae and dogs can become infected when they accidentally or deliberately ingest these common garden pests whilst rummaging through fields and undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls or possibly even after swallowing their slime.

Susan Gacem, Diamond’s owner, was not aware of the parasite or its dangers

“When I found out Diamond had lungworm I was shocked, I had never heard of it before," she said.

"When they told me it could have killed her, I was really worried for her.

“Diamond drinks out of a watering hole in the local park, and after finding out about lungworm I think that it may have come from there as slugs and snails can leave an infected slime trail behind when travelling through water.”

The disease can affect dogs of any age, but puppies are especially at risk, and a significant number of dogs have lost their lives as a result of infection.

Concerned dog owners are urged to speak to their vet about a monthly parasite prevention plan that ensures their pet is fully protected from lungworm.