• Rise of roundworms in dogs prompts warning to pet parents

    May 5, 2024


    Recent warm and wet weather in some parts of Australia is causing an increase in roundworms in dogs and humans.

    The increase has prompted a Melbourne parasitologist to remind pet parents of the importance of being vigilant and taking precautions to limit their risk of exposure to Toxocara roundworms.

    Black and brown dog lying on floorboards roundworm in dogs


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    University of Melbourne parasitologist Dr Vito Colella says the recent combination of wet and warm weather is creating ideal conditions for the spread of canine intestinal worms.

    And it’s not just dogs who are susceptible, with a spike in human contamination resulting in whole families being at risk.

    “An estimated two million Australians – 7% of the population – have been infected,” says Dr Colella.

    “And with recent warm and wet weather creating ideal conditions for the spread of canine intestinal worms, more people are at risk.”

    Dr Colella explains that worm larvae develop quicker in these conditions. They can also survive for longer periods of time.

    “Additionally, heavy rain can result in the spread of worm eggs and larvae across the park, rather than having them found in or immediately next to a faecal sample.”

    The effect of weather on infection of humans has been studied throughout the world.

    Increased rainfall, humidity, and temperature have all been shown to be associated with an increased risk of human infection with Toxocara roundworms.


    Expert urges pet parents not to be complacent about canine intestinal worms

    Given the record-breaking wet weather we have seen recently, it is important pet owners are aware of the risk and how to manage it.

    Though studies last year showed many pet owners weren’t taking the threat of roundworms seriously.

    Alarmingly, one in four pet parents admitted to never deworming their dog


    Protect your pet when visiting dog parks, playgrounds and beaches 

    A recent study shows almost half of all dog parks across Australia contain high numbers of roundworm eggs.

    Sandpits, parks, playgrounds, and beaches also have high contamination rates. Essentially, wherever there’s dog poo, there’ll almost certainly be roundworm eggs too.

    Global studies show high rates (13-35%) of soil contamination with roundworm eggs in public places.

    As well as dogs, roundworms can infect other animals, such as chickens and cattle.

    Therefore, the ingestion of raw or near-raw meat from animals with roundworm is another potential source of transmission.

    “Fortunately, severe human disease due to Toxocara roundworms is rare in Australia,” he says.

    “However, when it does occur it can have potentially life-altering consequences.”

    One of the worst side effects is the permanent loss of vision when worm larvae migrate through the eye.”

    “Although these severe consequences are rarely identified, studies have shown that infection with roundworm is associated with an increased risk of asthma and epilepsy in children, as well as potentially cognitive and developmental delays.

    How to prevent roundworms in pets

    When it comes to reducing the risk, Dr Colella says pet owners need to take sensible precautions.

    The Australian Companion Animal Zoonoses Advisory Panel developed a set of guidelines to help reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission from pets to people.

    The panel comprises of seven independent veterinary and human infectious disease experts and the recommendations include:

    → Promptly pick up and dispose of faeces.
    → Deworm pets monthly.
    → Treat pets for external parasites year-round.
    → Regular veterinary health checks for pets.
    → Avoid feeding raw meat diets to pets.

    Melbourne dog mum knows the importance or regular deworming


    Lana Meltzer, owner of Golden Paws Dog Therapy, sits on couch with her family and pets for canine intestinal worms prevention
    Lana with her family and fur family (image supplied)

    Melbourne-based Lana Maltzer, owner of Golden Paws Dog Therapy, was involved in the study into Toxocara roundworms.

    Lana, who as a mum of three and owner of Golden Paws Therapy, knows the importance of following a monthly prevention routine to keep her family and clients safe from parasites.

    She credits her strict routine for keeping her dogs and family parasite-free.

    “As a family with three dogs, a kitten and three kids, keeping everyone healthy and safe is my absolute priority,” shares Lana.

    “I’ve been using NexGard SPECTRA for years and it’s been a consistently reliable go to.

    “My dogs have never had any issues and always love their monthly ‘treat’.”



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