While many pet owners know they need to take care of their dog or cat’s health with regular parasite protection, a lot still don’t fully understand the risks to both pets and people and just how many parasites in dog poo can be found in their own backyard, as well as at the local dog park.
New research has revealed that alarmingly, nearly three-quarters of dog owners (72.3%) do not follow the best practice guidelines of deworming their dog monthly. The first Australian study of its type conducted in over a decade also uncovered that nearly 1 in 4 (24.5%) owners never deworm their dog.
And, while the collection of dog faeces in public areas is a topic of contention – the research also revealed that the majority of dog owners do not properly dispose of their dogs’ faeces within their own backyard, with less than half of respondents (43.7%) removing their dog’s faeces on a daily basis, therefore increasing the risk of parasite infections.
Speaking to the findings of the study, Professor Rebecca Traub, Professor of Veterinary Parasitology and member of the Australian Companion Animal Zoonoses Advisory Panel, stated, “It is alarming that despite the hazards, the results show there is still a lot to be done to educate pet owners about the risk of disease transmission between pets and people, including the risk posed by canine intestinal worms and other parasites in dog poo.
In another study, 41% of respondents were not aware of all five main parasite groups that could harm their dog, being fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms – and many of these parasites in dog poo are lurking nearby.
The main parasites in dog poo that harm humans
Roundworm and hookworm are the main culprits where humans can become infected though ingesting material contaminated with dog poop, for example soil, sand or plant material, or when worm larvae penetrate the skin. Infection in humans can cause a range of potentially serious health problems, including intestinal illness and blindness.
And while it may look like the poo in your yard has disappeared or washed away over time, parasites in dog poo can include microscopic worm eggs and larvae that may remain infectious for years in your yard if dog poop is not cleared up.
According to other research, 7% of Australians have antibodies to canine roundworm, indicating they have been exposed to this parasite at some point in their life. This is a whopping figure and shows that parasites in dog poo really can make their way into us!
Children are more at risk given they spend more time playing outside, often in bare feet and may not be as vigilant about washing hands.
How to protect yourself from parasites in dog poo
In addition to deworming your dog monthly, check your yard daily and pick up and dispose of any dog poop. Always ensure you and your family thoroughly wash their hands after any contact with contaminated soil or surfaces as well.
It’s not only intestinal worms that we need to be aware of, external parasites such as fleas and mites can infest your dog and cause illness in people too.
So, to help protect your dog (and yourself!) from these important parasites, choose a product like NexGard SPECTRA®, which provides protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm, and intestinal worms, all in one monthly chew.
About the Author: Dr Melissa Meehan is a highly experienced and respected veterinary surgeon with over 14 years experience. Dr Melissa obtained her Members in Small Animal Medicine through examination in 2008 and now runs her own veterinary ophthalmology service.