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The parasitic danger of dog parks and doggy day care


The panel discusses the results of the DOGPARCS study and its implications for parasitic dangers at dog parks and doggy day care

Content sponsored by Elanco

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Many years ago, used to say you don't need to have your animals on seasonal heartworm flea and tick preventative, but we don't care as a pet parent to that, that has certainly changed significantly. So we are going to talk about that. And then changing gears a little bit. There is a dog park study that was done in 2020. And so, Bill, talk to me a little bit about what the about the dog parks study in 2020. And it was released about parasites and vectors.

Bill Carter, DVM: So, you know, a big part of that study was, you know, these dog parks where, you know, obviously dog parks are basically where it's like a daycare where nobody checks your vaccine records. So, you have, you know, I'd say 30% or so they found of dogs at dog parks are not on any monthly preventatives. I think it was around 87% of dog parks have some form of parasite—50% is going to be the worms we discussed—whipworms, roundworms, hookworms, you know. So, we're seeing a lot of that coming out of that study on dog parks, which, you know, again, it's kind of scary. You know, and the other thing I thought that, you know, wasn't looked at either because of the way they shed eggs is your tapeworms and your flukes, those are probably underrepresented in that study. And the other thing that study...that data that was collected, came from July and August. So that tends to be when the parasite burdens are the lowest because of the hot temperatures. So, the fact we're seeing this high burden in the middle of the summer, makes me really wonder what's going on in winter.

Katina Carter, DVM: This is exactly opposite of what a lot of clients think.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Right? You know, it's perception that they feel like the...

Bill Carter, DVM: The winter kills everything. Yes, the snow destroys everything. Yeah, it doesn't work that way.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: To continue, get a load of this. This is the result: samples were examined from 3006 dogs, 87% of them aged at least 12 months of age, visited 280 parks. That's a good sample size that we have there and get a load of this. So at least one intestinal parasite was detected in 622 samples. What does that mean to you as a veterinarian when you're seeing your clients that come walk through the door?

Katina Carter, DVM: I think that part of that is our fault. As veterinarians, I don't want to say our fault. But I don't think that in general practice we do enough, we make a big enough deal about stool samples, you know. Oh, I forgot my stool sample. It needs to be a once a year. We opened a boarding practice. Soanybody that boards they have to every 6 months. But I think we need to do that more, in general. That's a high number. And there was a decent number of protected pets, you know, so I think they do it.

Bill Carter, DVM: A lot of the boarding ones coming in are completely asymptomatic and shedding. We're finding rounds, sometimes hooks, sometimes whips. And these are animals that are not coming in for diarrhea. They're not sick. They're just the clients who have a lapse in their prevention, you know.

Katina Carter, DVM: I think we...Yeah, our side of it...I think we need to do a little bit better.

Bill Carter, DVM: Prepaid fecals.

Katina Carter, DVM: Yeah, we've started doing things like that. I think that's telling us a lot.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: So you can be more testing, testing, testing so that we were more proactive. Kara when you hear something like this as a as a dog mom, too, how do you feel when you hear like, oh, my gosh, you know, like 622? You know, at least one parasite was noted in there. What does that mean to you and Nestle?

Kara Johnson: It definitely makes me feel good that I don't go to dog parks. Definitely. But that's actually part of the reason why we don't because I just, it's scary. You know, it's sad to think that I can't take him to go play with friends because I have to worry about, gosh forbid, picking up intestinal parasite or anything, really any sort of infectious disease from other dogs. Because, like he said, It's really like a daycare that doesn't check vaccinations and anybody can kind of walk in the door. And kids we all know get sick at daycare. So it's kind of the same thing as Nestle.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: And you have a child at home, too, so I'm sure you're concerned about like zoonotic risks and those particular instances, right?

Kara Johnson: Yes. And he loves to lick her face, and he loves to eat dirt. So that's really comforting. That's why staying on prevention all yours are so important. I mean, I do it the same day, every single month. I'm checking my calendar, I checked the box off and like, and he loves it. I mean, he eats it like a treat. But it's so important for me to do it. And especially even tick control, too. It's, you know, he's dark it's hard to...how do you find a tick or a flea on him at all? So staying on all year round prevention all the time.

Bill Carter, DVM: I can't tell you how many tick diseases...well, you know. You know, "Oh, I didn't find any ticks on my animal" and the Lyme...it beats the control. You're like, oh, yeah, definitely no ticks...you know, they're all potty trained all of them. They're all pee-pad trained.

Kara Johnson: I was just gonna say my dog only goes in my yard. I'm like, oh, yeah, your yard, okay? There's definitely no ticks out there. There's no animals, no squirrels.

Bill Carter, DVM: So my grandpa used to always say, he'd say ask them if they're potty [trained], if they go in the house, if they're litter box trained. And the first time I used that line, it was 2 Maltese and they were. So just ask them. Are they litter box trained? Well, we need to run this test on your animal check for Lyme disease. They don't go out. Are they litter box trained? Yes. Two little Maltese.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Yeah, who would have thunk right? You know, another interesting thing from this dog park study, too, intestinal parasite, the most common of which were giardia. Hookworm and whipworms are found in 20% of dogs and 85% of dog parks around the United States, too. So what does that what does that make you feel when you hear that information Bill as a veterinarian?

Bill Carter, DVM: I mean, you know that, A: We're, we're having an issue with prevention. B: We're having an issue with multidrug resistant hookworm. They did a study on greyhounds finding they were pretty much resistant to everything. They did find a combo that worked, but you're having to mix and match drugs to do that. So, it definitely worries me as far as prevention goes. The other thing with hookworm, too, as far as being in these parks is the way hookworm kind of gets in the people is it buries through your skin. So sandy soil hookworm larvae, trans...visceral larval migrans where they're kind of going through your body, and it's just that worries me a lot, especially how long they stay in sandy soil and the fact that they can...not to scare people, but oh, yeah, they can. I've seen cases of it.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: I think we've I've seen I had a kid that had cutaneous love or migrans from the shore, the Jersey Shore area too. And so because there were cats that were out there too, but just they didn't know what that was.

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