Dog owners, it’s time to take note!
A recent Australian study has uncovered some alarming facts about canine intestinal worms; nearly one in four dog owners are failing to treat their dogs for these pesky parasites.
The result? An increased rate and risk of disease transmission to both pets and people.
We speak to a veterinary parasitologist to learn the risks involved in not deworming, and some tips for owners to stay on top of their dogs’ intestinal health.
The first Australian study of its kind conducted in more than a decade revealed that one in four pet parents never deworming their dog.
That’s a quarter of all pet owners not only putting their pets at risk but also the health of themselves and their families.
Intestinal worms can make dogs very sick and monthly deworming (as well as prompt removal of dog faeces) is key to minimising the risk of transmission.
Intestinal worms are a zoonotic disease (also called zoonoses), meaning the worm species infesting dogs can also infect and cause disease in people.
Professor Rebecca Traub, a renowned Veterinary Parasitologist, urges dog owners to adopt a monthly deworming routine to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.
“It is alarming that despite the hazards, there is still a lot to be done to educate pet owners about the risk of disease transmission,” says Professor Straub.
“Dogs, both healthy and sick, may carry a range of different zoonotic organisms.
“Given the close relationship between pets and people, it’s extremely important that dog owners remain vigilant to prevent exposure to other dogs and humans both directly, and through contamination of the environment.”
A separate study of vets reveals that affordability (63%) and lack of information (19%) are the main barriers for owners when it comes to deworming their pooches.
“Last year, we conducted Australia’s first nationwide study investigating the prevalence and distribution and risks associated with canine intestinal worms contaminating dog parks across Australia,” says Professor Straub.
“It showed that almost half (42.6%) of parks sampled were contaminated with canine intestinal worms.
“While many dog owners are rightly concerned about the risks of dog faeces not being cleaned-up in public locations such as dog parks, this survey highlights the lack of awareness from owners for the threat their own home/backyard presents.
“Quite simply, by not deworming dogs monthly and picking up their faeces in the dog park and backyard, people are not doing enough to minimise the health risks associated with canine intestinal worms to both dogs and humans,” concluded Rebecca.
Tips to reduce the risk of transmission
The Australian Companion Animal Zoonoses Advisory Panel has developed guidelines to help reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. Key recommendations include:
Regular veterinary health checks
Good hygiene practices (e.g., handwashing, disposal of pet poo)
Year-round treatment for external parasites
Avoiding raw meat diets for pets
Worming chews (such as NexGard SPECTRA: A Simple Solution) are tasty monthly chews that protects against intestinal worms, fleas, ticks, mites, and heartworm.
Dog owner Carmen Ellis emphasises the importance of deworming for her Toy Poodle, Toby.
With a young baby at home, Carmen wants to ensure protection for her whole family, and is urging all other dog owners to take the threat of intestinal worms seriously.
“Our pets are our responsibility,” says Carmen.
“Something as easy as giving your pet a monthly chew can give you so much peace of mind.”
Carmen says Toby’s worming treatment is a monthly chew, which he really enjoys.
“It gives us peace of mind knowing Toby is protected, especially when we go for walks, visit our local park, and when Toby plays with other dogs.
“We also have peace of mind that he is protected at home as we often have other dogs come to visit, so it’s good to know he is safe.
“Toby really likes the chews; plus, you only have to do it once a month, so it’s really easy to keep track of,” she says.