DOG owners are being warned by leading vets over a fatal dog disease spreading throughout the UK. 

Vets4Pets and Bayer are working to raise awareness of the risks lungworm can pose to dogs and what owners can do. 

There have so far been 2,762 recorded confirmed cases of the disease in the UK, however many are still unreported with South-East England and Wales considered a 'hotspot' region for cases.

Foxes and garden pests such as slugs and snails are found to be a carrier of the disease which can be a risk if dogs come into contact with them. 

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “The continued spread of the lungworm parasite throughout the UK over the past ten years or so means the UK dog population is increasingly at risk."

According to experts, lungworm can be difficult to diagnose as some dogs do not show signs of infection for months. 

However, signs can also be apparent with coughing, breathing difficulties, vomiting, weight loss, diarrhoea, excessive bleeding and changes in behaviour. 

Donna Tomlinson, senior brand manager at Bayer, said: “It’s important that we raise public awareness of lungworm, as cases continue to rise in regions where it wasn’t believed to be present.

"The disease is completely preventable, and the best way to stop your dog from contracting lungworm is to use worming tablets or spot-on treatments.

"Not all worming treatments are effective against lungworm though, so visit your vet for advice."