A new study published in the journal Parasites & Vectors examines the types and amounts of gastrointestinal parasites found at US dog parks. Is your pup at risk for making some not-so-nice new friends at the dog park? Here’s a rundown of the study.
The researchers picked up freshly deposited dog feces at 30 US metropolitan area dog parks. Samples from over 3,000 individual dogs were examined for parasites. Owners were also interviewed about parasite history and prevention.
The findings show that gastrointestinal parasites are fairly widespread in dog parks.
One in five dogs were found to have some intestinal parasites, with an 85% park prevalence overall. What were the most common parasites detected and how many dogs had them? A summary of the study reports the following:
- Giardia: 13% of dogs, 74% of parks
- Hookworms: 7.1% of dogs, 43.4% of parks
- Whipworms: 1.9% of dogs, 18.1% of parks
- All parasites: 20.7% of dogs, 85.1% of parks
Certain areas of the US had more parasite prevalence at dog parks. For example, one third of Florida dogs were found to be infected with hookworms.
The researchers found that owner care and behavior played a role in whether their dogs were found to have parasites. Owners of dogs with a previous diagnosis of parasites were more likely to use parasite prevention treatments.
The key to preventing transmission of intestinal parasites at the dog park? All visitors should promptly pick up and dispose of their dog’s feces.
Another important point to keep in mind…the authors noted that they saw many owners in open sandals and bare feet at the dog park. They also observed young children playing on the ground. Since intestinal parasites can also be picked up by humans, be aware that both you and your dog could be at risk without proper safety precautions.
For more information on pet parasite dangers in your state, check out this story on pet parasite prevalence in the US.