Intestinal parasites, commonly called worms, are a common ailment among dogs. Once your vet treats your pooch, he'll be parasite-free, but the intestinal parasite eggs he's left behind can survive in your home and backyard, reinfecting your dog and even possibly making you and your family ill as well. Clean and disinfect both indoors and outdoors to get rid of these pests for good.
Canine intestinal parasites
The most common intestinal parasites to affect our canine companions include hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, and whipworms. While the veterinary treatments available will kill the adult parasites in your pooch's system, they won't affect the pests' eggs in the environment. The tiny eggs pass through a dog's feces, where they infect the soil as the feces decomposes. Your pup can pass millions of these eggs in his feces each day. The parasite eggs can survive for years in the soil and hatch into larvae. If you or your pup ingests them, they can infect you both. Some larval pests, like hookworms, can burrow through the skin to cause a rash in humans or infect a pooch.
Clean the home
Wash all of your pup's bedding, blankets and toys in hot water to remove any of the tiny eggs that may be lurking on them. Steam-clean your carpets and drapes. Heat is one of the only ways to kill these eggs, which are resistant to most pesticides. Vacuum your carpets daily, too, to remove the eggs of fleas, which are the pests that transmit tapeworms to your pooch. The Animal Medical Hospital recommends wiping down solid surfaces with a mixture of 3 cups of bleach and 1 gallon of water. The bleach will remove the sticky surface of intestinal parasite eggs, allowing you to clean them away.
Pick up after your pooch immediately after he defecates in your yard to prevent the eggs in his feces from infecting the soil. The eggs don't become infectious unless the feces are allowed to dry out and disintegrate into the soil, contaminating it. Intestinal parasite eggs don't survive well in direct sunlight, so clear debris like leaves, mulch, branches, and general clutter.
When cleaning up after your pet, wear gloves or cover your hands with a waterproof plastic bag. Remove your dog's stool daily, and throw it away. It may seem convenient to just hose down your pet's stool, but doing this can actually spread parasite eggs into the ground, making the problem worse.
The Mar Vista Animal Medical Center recommends that you rake chemicals containing borates, like borax, through your soil to help kill the parasite eggs. Unfortunately, these borates will kill the surrounding grass and other plants. Removing the top 8 to 12 inches of soil will ensure that any eggs in the soil can't infect you or your pooch. Wash down concrete surfaces, including dog kennels, with a bleach solution.
Always wash your hands after working in your yard or handling your pooch, and advise your children to do the same. This will prevent the accidental ingestion of intestinal parasite eggs you've picked up in outdoor areas. Wear shoes when walking around outdoors to prevent parasites from penetrating the skin of your feet. Thoroughly wash any vegetables from your garden. Keep your pooch away from children's play areas outdoors. Cover your sandbox to prevent him from defecating in it.
Did you know that wildlife, like raccoons, can also spread worms, such as roundworms, through their stool? If you encounter wildlife stool in your yard, use the same precautions mentioned above to help keep yourself and your family from coming into contact with worm eggs.
The best defense is a good offense. Consult your vet about putting your pooch on a monthly flea medication to prevent him from becoming infected with tapeworms. Some treatments, like milbemycin oxime, also kill roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.
- Pets & Parasites: Frequently Asked Questions
- PetEducation.com: Roundworms (Toxascaris Leonina, Toxocara Canis)
- Atlanta Humane Society: Fleas, Ticks and Pets: How to Protect Your Pet, Yourself and Your Home
- Okaw Veterinary Clinic: Worms and Other Internal Parasites That Infect Pets
- RetrieverPro: Round Worms (Toxocara canis and Toxascaris Leonina)
- Sentry: Worms: Bad News for Pets
- 2ndChance.info: Intestinal Parasites in Your Dog and What to Do About Them
- Intestinal Parasites
- Doctors Foster and Smith: Milbemycin Oxime
- LA County Department of Public Health: The Link Between Animal Feces and Zoonotic Disease