A DOG was left fighting for her life after becoming infected with a deadly parasite.

Ribbons, a King Charles spaniel, was just eight months old when she lost her appetite and began struggling to breathe.

At first owner Veronica Hull, from Basildon, thought her dog was ready to breed, but soon realised something serious was wrong.

She said: “One evening she refused to eat her dinner. At the time I wasn’t immediately concerned as I thought she could just be coming into her first season. I told my husband that if she still didn’t eat her breakfast the next day, I would take her to the vets for a check up.

“However, the next morning we found her lying on her side, barely breathing. She was in such a bad way and almost unresponsive.

We rushed her to the vets, by which time Ribbons was in a coma.”

Staff at Companion Care, in Pipps Hill, Basildon, carried out extensive tests and X-rays and soon discovered Ribbons was harbouring a parasitic lungworm.

The parasite has been a problem in other parts of Europe for many years, but is now spreading across Britain.

For 24 hours, Ribbons’ life was in serious danger, but she eventually began to pull through.

Mrs Hull added “In all my 37 years as a dog breeder, I had never come across such a horrifying infection in a dog before and honestly thought I was going to lose her. She had less than a 25 per cent chance of survival and the speed at which it took hold was scary.

“It actually took around six weeks before Ribbons was back to full health and could trot down the garden without panting or laying down for a rest.

“We can’t thank our vet enough for saving our puppy’s life.”

Mrs Hull now makes sure she warns every dog owner she meets about the dangers of lungworm.

Dogs become infected with the parasite after eating or accidentally swallowing garden slugs and snails carrying the larvae.

Bayer Animal Health, which specialises in medicine for animals, has recently launched a parasite awareness campaign called “It’s a Jungle Out There”.

A spokesman for the organisation said: “Once inside the dog’s system, the parasite travels through the body, eventually ending up in the heart.

“If the infection is left untreated, the dog’s health can rapidly deteriorate, and can even result in death.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/jungleforpets or www.lungworm.co.uk.