A FAMILY pet was saved from a potentially dangerous operation after a Rayleigh vet carried out a simple blood test.

Spike, a one-year-old terrier cross, was due to be neutered at YourVets, in Brook Road, but a blood test revealed he was infected with lungworm, which could have caused a dangerous bleed during an operation. Megan Collins had only had rescue dog Spike for a month and had treated him for stomach worms, but it had not stopped the lungworm.

The disease, which vets say is on the increase, affects blood clotting, meaning any operation could have proved fatal.

Ms Collins, 53, of Ilgars Road, Wickford, said: “I had no idea Spike was even ill.

“He was happy as Larry, so to find out he could’ve been in real danger is really shocking.

“I’m so grateful to the vets for spotting the infection and for saving him.”

Spike had a temporary reprieve from his neutering operation and will return to the vet next month to see if the treatment has worked and he is well enough for surgery.

In the meantime, Ms Collins said he is settling well into life at his new home and even bossing around the family’s two Rottweilers.

She added: “He’s only been here a month, but he’s already ruling the roost. He’s tiny, so I think he’s got a bit of aNapoleon complex.”

Chris Shorrock, head vet at YourVets Rayleigh, is warning other dog owners to be vigilant for lungworm, which has symptoms of weight loss, reluctance to exercise, bleeding and breathing problems.

He said: “Lungworm is named the ‘silent killer’ as it often goes undiagnosed. Many people don’t know their pet has the disease until it’s too late.

“Thankfully, Spike’s condition was detected and treated, but if unchecked lungworm can be fatal.”

Hayley Cox, nurse at fellow Rayleigh surgery Vets4Pets, added: “We are seeing more cases of lungworm all over the country and it does cause more bleeding.”

Dogs get lungworm by eating larvae found in infected snails, slugs or frogs, often accidentally.