According to a recent survey by Merial Limited, when it comes to scooping the poop, many Americans feel their pet-owning neighbors deserve to be in the dog house-and with good reason. Neglecting to remove dog waste increases health threats at parks, playgrounds and even backyards. Parasites, such as hookworms and roundworms, may be found in animal waste and may be transmitted to other dogs and to people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 10,000 human cases of roundworm infection annually.
“Many pet owners are unaware that intestinal roundworms and hookworms pose serious health threats to their pets, as well as to the human family members,” said Dr. Peter M. Schantz, Epidemiologist, Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Michael Rubinstein, clinic director of the Humane Society of New York, added, “It’s important to pick up after your pet and ensure that your dog is not the source of a parasitic infection. Ask your veterinarian about a once-monthly heartworm preventive, which in addition to preventing heartworm will treat and control intestinal parasites.”
A national survey of both dog owners and non-dog owners found:
• Nearly 38 percent of dog owners never scoop up after their pets.
• Ninety-one percent of pet owners let their dogs “take care of business” in their own yards. A third of that group sometimes or never cleans up after their dogs in their own yard.
• Eighty percent of dog owners don’t know dog waste poses a human health threat.
Roundworm eggs can remain viable in soil for years. As a result, anyone who comes in contact with the soil can also come in contact with infected eggs. Children who play at the park or in the back-yard and then put their hands in their mouth are susceptible to infection.
“The best strategy for control begins with keeping your pet healthy,” says Dr. Rubinstein. He offers the following tips:
• Always pick up after your pet to minimize the chance of spreading infection.
• Clean up properly after pets, especially around the home and lawn. Use tools and avoid direct contact with pets’ waste. Wash hands immediately after.
• If you have a sandbox in your backyard, keep it covered to prevent animals from using it as a litter box.
• Carry towelettes to wipe children’s hands frequently after playing in a park, public sandbox and the like.
• Ask your veterinarian about Heartgard® Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel). It treats and controls most species of roundworms and hookworms.
Take your puppy or kitten to the veterinarian for deworming at an early age and stick to a regular deworming schedule to prevent infection and protect your family.
Note to Editors: Heartgard® (ivermectin) is well tolerated. All dogs should be tested for heartworm infection before starting a preventive program. Following the use of Heartgard®, digestive and neurological side effects have rarely been reported.