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Pet warning: Pet owners across Australia warned of dangerous parasites

Pet owners are being warned of a dangerous illness after an alarming number of dog parks across the country were found to have been contaminated by parasites.

Canine intestinal worms – parasites including hookworms and roundworms that can infect a dog or human – were identified in a huge number of dog parks across Australia, according to the new research.

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The University of Melbourne study found a large percentage of dog parks were hosting the dangerous parasites, which, if they infect your furry friend or child, can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia.

In Melbourne alone, almost half (43 per cent) of all dog parks were found to have been contaminated, while in Hobart 20 per cent of parks were contaminated.

Up in Far North Queensland, the contamination rates were the highest in the country, with 100 per cent of the parks tested in the region found to be contaminated.

The frightening disease can trigger vomiting, diarrhoea, and anemia in both dogs and humans. File image. Credit: Getty Images

Rates of contamination in Queensland’s capital were also high, with 66 per cent of Brisbane’s dog parks contaminated.

Rates were also high in other capital cities such as Perth with 50 per cent pollution and in Darwin with 70 per cent pollution.

In Sydney and Adelaide, however, rates were lower, with just 8 per cent of Sydney dog ​​parks and 11 per cent of parks in Adelaide contaminated with the parasite.

While dog owners are being warned of the risks, parents are also being warned, as five of the seven worms identified in the study can make humans sick as well.

University of Melbourne professor of Veterinary Parasitology Rebecca Traub told 7NEWS pet owners and parents should remain diligent.

“If kids are running around barefoot and if kids are playing without washing their hands and putting their hands in their mouth, that then becomes a risk for these kids,” she said.

“So something as simple as washing hands, and making sure you’re wearing footwear outside, these very basic precautions can help.”

How can we prevent it?

Traub said preventative measures, should be taken by pet owners in order to minimize the risks.

“Things such as regular de-worming, and responsible pet ownership, such as the immediate removal of dog poo in parks, should be encouraged to minimize the health risks associated with canine intestinal worms to both dogs and humans,” she said.

Regular checkups at the vet are also advised, as well as maintaining good hygiene when spending time in these outdoor areas.

Traub added the “biggest line of defense” was monthly de-worming through the use of products that specifically targeted hookworms, roundworms and whipworms – such as NexGard Spectra.

Responsible pet ownership and the removal of dog poo in parks is said to be an effective preventative measure. File image. Credit: UCG/UCG/Universal Images Group via G

To help reduce the risk of transmission of the dangerous disease from pets to people, the Australian Companion Animal Zoonoses Advisory Panel has recently developed a set of guidelines to help Australians.

Key recommendations from the Panel to reduce the risks include:

  • De-worm pets monthly
  • Treat pets for external parasites year-round
  • Regular veterinary health checks for pets
  • Ensure good hygiene practices (eg handwashing, disposal of pet poo)
  • Avoid feeding raw meat diets to pets


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