Most pet owners will do everything they can to keep their canine companions in good health, whether that means feeding their pooch premium dog food, taking them on regular walks or grooming them every day.

However, what some owners are unaware of is that there is a hidden danger in our gardens, parks and countryside that could be putting our dogs' health at serious risk.

Last year's damp summer and mild winter have enabled slug and snail populations in the UK to flourish, leading experts to warn of a continued spread of Angiostrongylus vasorum, which is a parasite more commonly known as lungworm.

The parasite is carried by slugs or snails and the problem arises when dogs accidentally ingest these garden pests when rummaging in the undergrowth, drinking from puddles or chewing on toys that have been left outdoors.

Infection with lungworm can cause a whole host of serious health problems in dogs, and is likely to be fatal if not diagnosed and treated.

However, it seems that many owners are unaware of the risks these parasites pose and how to deal with them. Indeed a recent survey of 2,000 UK dog owners found that 84 per cent were unable to identify the symptoms of the parasite in their dog, while one third didn't even know how their pooch could be infected.

As a result of this lack of knowledge surrounding lungworm, Bayer Animal Health has launched a BE Lungworm Aware campaign, which will run throughout March and will help to inform dog owners about this potentially fatal infection.

"Some owners still believe that lungworm can be prevented by using normal intestinal wormers, which is not the case," said Bayer Animal Health group product manager Caroline Braidwood.

"Our aim with the Be Lungworm Aware campaign is to drive pet owners to their vet practice, where they can then be informed of the danger of the parasite and educated about correct preventative treatment."

Written by: Hannah