A pet charity is warning dog owners to protect their pet and be vigilant outdoors after a four-year-old beagle was admitted to an animal hospital on the brink of death.

When Jessie collapsed at home, her owners immediately sought help and brought her in for urgent veterinary attention at Blue Cross in central London.

Vets discovered she was suffering from 'lungworm' which can quickly become fatal.

Alison Brennan, senior vet at Blue Cross in Victoria, said: "When Jessie arrived it was immediately clear she was in a bad way. We had to do several tests to find out what was wrong and when lungworm tests came back positive we had to act fast."

Watford Observer:

Lungworm is caused by a parasite the lives in slugs, snails and frogs and dogs can get lungworm after ingesting them.

This can happen accidentally through absorbing tiny slugs on grass, from toys or their fur.

The lungworm larvae then grows inside the dog and moves through their body to live in their heart and blood vessels, causing heart and breathing problems.

The worms can then produce their own larvae inside the body which leads to serious issues. The disease can spread quickly in the environment through dogs passing the larvae through their waste and infecting more slugs and snails.

Watford Observer:

Lungworm sample from Jessie. Credit: Blue Cross

Symptoms may be hard to spot but signs something may be wrong include coughing, breathing problems, lethargy and abnormal blood clotting or bleeding. Preventions are possible through worming treatment and owners are advised to speak to their vet.

Ms Brennan added: "We regularly advise dog owners of the dangers of lungworm because, sadly, we see cases every year. It is a hidden killer so we urge dog owners to talk to their vet about preventative treatments and make sure they keep an eye on pets outside and wash their toys and water bowls if left outdoors."

Despite being on the brink of death, after several days of 24-hour intensive care and the dedication of Blue Cross vet nurses, Jessie made a full recovery.