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A lot of misinformation is available regarding parasites and diseases that are spread by dog poop. It also seems that many dog owners are misinformed about this topic in general, as well.
I'd like to start by telling you what parasites dog poop is not responsible for.
Heartworms come from mosquito bites
Let's talk about five common parasites and diseases that can be spread by dog poop.
1. Roundworms are nematodes that commonly affect young puppies. These worms live in the stomach and intestines of dogs. Puppies can pick up a roundworm infection while they are still in the womb of their mother or from her milk after they are born. Or dogs can become infected by ingesting soil contaminated with roundworm eggs. The soil becomes contaminated from the feces of a dog who has these worms.
2. Hookworms are another nematode that like to infect puppies. Of course, a dog of any age can certainly get them. These worms are microscopic and live in the small intestine of their host. Hookworms are dangerous to dogs, especially puppies, because they can potentially cause anemia. They feed on blood, so large infections of hookworms are problematic. Hookworms are zoonotic, which means people can get them, too. And did you know that they can actually pass through your skin? That's why your mother told you to wear shoes out in the yard when you were young.
3. Whipworms are also passed through dog stool. And they happen to be one of the hardest parasites to get rid of once their eggs get in your yard. It could potentially take several months to rid your dog of a whipworm infection. They get their name because they look like whips. One end is fat, like a whip handle and the rest of the worm is very long and skinny. These worms are microscopic.
4. Giardia is not a worm. It's a protozoal parasite. It causes dogs and cats to become sick with symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. It makes them feel pretty crummy. It's not easy to get rid of, either. Many dogs and cats pick up giardia by drinking from contaminated water puddles. Contaminated poop that's left unscooped washes away with rain water and then other animals drink it. This can infect people also.
5. Parvo is a life-threatening virus that infects puppies and young dogs. This viral infection is no joke. Puppies with parvo will be extremely lethargic, have bloody diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. Parvovirus can live in the environment for years and there isn't much that can kill it. Bleach is an effective method of killing this virus in its environment. Parvo is not something that people get.
For prevention of the three worms mentioned above, there is a once-a-month pill that you can give your dog. That's right - most heartworm preventions also protect your dog against these worms. You'll need to check on whipworms though, because not all protect against those.
There is also a vaccination for parvo, which all dogs should get when they are puppies. Don't let your puppy walk around at the pet store, dog park, or other places like this. You don't know what's lurking in the soil and it's better to be safe than sorry.
And the easiest way you can help to prevent all of these common parasites and diseases that are spread by dog poop is to pick up after your dog. It's as simple as that. All you have to do is scoop that poop. Don't let your dog spread parasites and disease to other dogs or cats.