You take your dog, Jerry, on a playdate at the local dog park. Days later, you wake up to your beloved Jerry saddened because he’s pooped on the carpet – diarrhea, three different spots. Jerry thinks he’s done something wrong; you’re just worried he’s sick. What could have happened? This is an example of how intestinal parasites can interrupt your life. Many areas can harbor these critters, but present-day studies suggest dog parks may be the biggest culprits.

The most recent study conducted covered a variety of at least thirty U.S. municipalities in which approximately 3,000 canine fecal samples were collected from dog parks and assessed. The resulting realization was that 85% of the sampled dog parks tested positive for the presence of intestinal parasite larvae. It concluded that 20% of all surveyed dogs (approximately 1 in 5) were infected with at least one type of intestinal parasite.

How can your dog become burdened with these parasitic creatures? Infestation begins with ingestion of infective fecal material, which may be barely visible on objects and even present in water or soil. If your pet is not on appropriate preventative treatment, the infective larvae begin their life cycle following ingestion. Depending on the type of intestinal parasite, quantity, and length of time left untreated, symptoms of intestinal parasitic infection can include the following: diarrhea, bloody stool, vomiting, weight loss, ascites (fluid-filled abdomen), lethargy, dehydration, pale mucous membranes (gums, etc.), and even seizures in severe cases.

What’s more, some intestinal parasites are considered zoonotic, meaning they can be passed to humans in some form. These include roundworms, hookworms, and Giardia when considering companion animals as the host. The two most common intestinal parasites found at the surveyed locations were roundworms and hookworms, and the study suggested that 42% of sampled puppies were found to have roundworms and Giardia.

Encouragingly, this study also showed that 68% of the surveyed dogs were on some sort of parasitic preventative, according to their owners, making it exponentially less likely for them to become vulnerable to intestinal parasites, ectoparasites, and heartworms. Species of parasites prevented are dependent upon the type of antiparasitic being used.

In conclusion, the key to keeping your furry family, and human family, safe from parasites is a
combination of routine fecal screening at your veterinarian, preventative treatment for your pets year-round, and diligently picking up/discarding your pets’ stool and washing your hands thoroughly afterward.

Orange City Family Animal Care 
(712) 707-CARE (2273)