Dog owners across the country do their best to keep their faithful pets safe and healthy. This often includes hunting around for premium dog food, buying expensive shampoos and treatments to ensure your pet looks its best.

Investing in top of the range toys to make sure your dog is never left bored when you're out of the house is also important.

However, latest research shows that furry family members may not be safe in your own back garden as it shows the common garden snail harbours a parasite that can be fatal to canines.

The slimy creature can explore the average garden in a single night and travels at around one metre per hour. For the first time ever scientists have followed the movements of 450 garden snails using a combination of LED lights, UV paints and time-lapse photography.

It reveals that snails can travel up to 25 metres in any 24-hour period in order to find somewhere to shelter themselves, which could be in long grass or dogs' toys, which have been left in the garden overnight.

The team of four researchers from Exeter University found that there is an element of camaraderie in snails as they will often piggyback on the slime trail left behind by another in order to save their own energy as they use around 30 per cent of their energy producing slime.

However, the main purpose of the study was to send a warning to dog owners all over the UK as their pets are in danger. Snails and slugs carry a fatal parasite to canines called lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum. Dogs most commonly come into contact with the deadly parasite by swallowing small slugs or snails which have hidden in their toys or are disguised in the long grass.

Dr Dave Hodgson, associate professor of ecology at the University of Exeter, said: "Until now no one has fully understood the habits of these fascinating creatures that we encounter in our gardens every day.

"By learning more about the behaviour of snails, we hope dog owners can better understand the ways in which dogs can encounter snails on a day-to-day basis and the lungworm risk they present, taking the appropriate precautions."

Written by: Hannah