When I first started my career as a dog waste removal specialist, I had advanced knowledge regarding the risks of leaving dog waste in your yard. I came upon this knowledge while serving in the U.S. Army as a veterinary technician.
When we examined dogs annually, it was customary to perform routine diagnostic tests such as heartworm tests and fecal tests. Most of the time, animals would present with a negative heartworm test. Given the popularity of heartworm medicine, this was hardly unusual. Not only was the heartworm medicine effective for preventing heartworms, it could also treat for intestinal parasites such as roundworm and hookworm.
Because the medicine was effective for treating intestinal parasites, you would think that many, if not most, examinations of stool would have negative results for intestinal parasites. Unfortunately, this was not always the case.
As a vet tech, I became very adept at examining waste under the microscope and identifying parasites based on their eggs. The most common observations were for roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. How can this be if a monthly pill is being administered?
For one, medicine isn’t always 100% effective at treating problems. Secondly, sometimes pet owners are not 100% compliant with giving medicine. Third, heartworm medicine is indicated for treating heartworms, roundworms, and hookworms, not whipworms nor tapeworms. Whatever the reason, it is evident that every pet owner should be prepared to deal with intestinal worms during the life of their furbaby.
Roundworm infection occurs when an animal comes in contact with infected soil and consumes the parasite. The worms live in the intestinal tract of dogs and can cause a potbellied appearance. Infected animals may be lethargic. Puppies are usually susceptible, but dogs with weakened immune systems (such as elderly dogs) could also become infected.
Hookworm infection occurs by coming in direct contact with infected fecal material or soil. Upon touching the infected material, hookworms can pass through skin and migrate to the intestine where they latch on via “hook”-like organs. Animals may become lethargic and anemic. Stools may have a slimy appearance, with yellow and red tinge. Hookworms can infect dogs at any age.
Both roundworm and hookworm can infect people, too. Children, most often, become infected because of poor hygiene habits. Always encourage your children to wash their hands after playing outdoors and before eating anything. If you have a dog or are at a park where dogs frequent, always encourage your children to wear shoes and not go barefoot. Going barefoot in a yard where hookworm infected dog waste lies, could result in human infection. Failure to wash hands after playing in dirt and before eating could result in a child introducing roundworm eggs into their mouth simply by putting fingers in or around the mouth.
Keep hands clean and feet covered to avoid infection.
If your dog does have an infection by an intestinal worm, your veterinarian will be able to guide you through the treatment options to eliminate the worms from your dog’s body.
Always pick up after your pet. If you don’t have the time, there are professional services available to assist you in keeping your yard clean. To find a scooper in your area, visit aPaws.org.
If you live in Bullitt, Hardin, Jefferson, Meade, or Oldham Counties in Kentucky, contact PetCorps for a service quote. If you sign up during National Pooper Scooper Week (April 1st thru 7th), we will donate 20% of your purchase to support Friends of Hardin County Animal Shelter (FOHCAS) a 501(c)3 organization that provides medical support to shelter animals in Elizabethtown, KY. For more information, visit fohcas.org and make a donation to make a difference in the life of a shelter pet.