Parasites can be a pet owner’s nightmare.
Intestinal parasites are tiny organisms that can live in your dog’s intestinal lining. They steal nutrients from your dog’s digestive tract and can cause a variety of symptoms that may make your dog sick. They can be challenging to eliminate from your property and may repeatedly re-infect pets or even people if not properly cleaned up.
Parasites pass from infected fecal material into soil and other surfaces. Dogs can become infected with parasites when they walk across these contaminated surfaces or soil and track parasite eggs throughout the yard or house. They ingest eggs while licking their paws to groom themselves causing an infection to start. Many dogs show no symptoms during an active parasite infection, making them silent spreaders of disease in your house.
We’ve outlined the best way to eliminate parasites from your property during an active parasite infection in your dog and prevent them from occurring again.
All dogs should be tested for intestinal parasites twice a year.
A veterinarian can perform a simple fecal test to see if your dog is suffering from intestinal parasites. Also called an Ova and Parasite exam, or O&P, this is a routine procedure where your vet will collect a stool sample from your dog, mix it with a specific chemical, and examine it underneath a microscope to look for the presence of parasites or their eggs. They can then recommend treatment based on their findings.
Many puppies experience an active parasite infection, even if they come from a reputable breeder. Always have new dogs, especially puppies, checked for parasites prior to bringing them home.
A Parasite for Every Season
Parasites are found in infected soil year round. Many parasites, like Tapeworm and Giardia, tend to prefer cool, moist soil conditions found during the rainy season in Spring and Fall while more hardy parasites, like Whipworm and Roundworm, tend to appear in the colder drier months of winter. Parasites can lay dormant in the soil and reappear during peak months. Parasite infections in dogs may come and go if the contamination source, the infected soil, is not properly treated.
Common Intestinal Parasites Found in Dogs:
About: Tapeworms are segmented parasites that live in your dogs intestinal lining. Segments of the tapeworm may appear like tiny grains of rice in your dog’s stool.
Transmission: Dog’s acquire tapeworms by eating a host harboring tapeworm eggs such as an infected flea or a wild animal infested with tapeworms or fleas. Tape worms can also pass through contact with infected fecal material or other infected surfaces.
Lifespan on surfaces: up to 8 months
Ideal Conditions: warm and wet
Peak Seasons: Spring and Fall
*Can spread to people
Symptoms may include:
- Distended abdomen
- Weight loss
- Bloody poop
Dogs with intestinal parasites may not always show symptoms.
Dogs with mild infections may not show any symptoms of discomfort. This is why it is important to regularly check your dog for parasites as part of their routine health care.
Many parasites can be transmitted to people and other animals in the household by coming into contact with any area your dog has been.
People and animals can pick up parasites by coming into contact with anywhere a dog has been. Parasites are transferred through fecal matter and dogs track fecal matter everywhere. Any surface can become infected. This can include every type of floor, pillows, bedding, blankets, couches, carpets, or rugs the dog has been laying on or ‘scooted’ across as well as any areas of the yard they may have pooped.
Many parasites are able to survive on surfaces for days or months before dying. Even if your dog has been treated for parasites they can quickly become reinfected if they come into contact with un-sanitized surfaces they may have previously contaminated during their infection. For example, if your dog pooped in your backyard while they were infected with a parasite they could easily pick up the parasite again from the yard, if the yard was never treated. This can become an endless cycle of infection and retreatment if you don’t eliminate the source.
All animals in the household including cats should be tested for parasites if any of them have tested positive.
Household surfaces and dog potty areas must be properly sanitized during an active parasite infection otherwise they can re-contaminate themselves, people, or other animals.
Parasite Elimination and Clean Up
Option 1: Best Option
- Disinfect your yard: Rinse your yard where your dog normally uses the bathroom thoroughly with a yard safe disinfectant. We recommend a product called Wysiwash.
- Spot treat as needed: Immediately remove and discard poop when your dog goes to the bathroom and rinse the spot with disinfectant such as Wysiwash.
We recommend a product called Wysiwash to maintain your yard.
Option 2: Most Economical Option
- Dry out the yard with DE – Begin drying out the yard area where the dog normally uses the bathroom by sprinkling FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth. If it rains you will need to reapply. If you mow be sure to thoroughly rinse the DE because it can create dust clouds.
- Spot treat the ground with DE when your dog goes to to the bathroom – Whenever your dog goes to the bathroom, pick up poop immediately and sprinkle DE over the ground where the poop was.
- Let your yard recover: Keep your dog away from the yard until it has dried out. Try to take your dog far away from your yard to go to the bathroom if possible.
Diatomaceous earth can be purchased on Amazon or at your local hardware store.
- Wash bedding in hot water – To begin eliminating the parasites from your property, wash anything your dog has been on or used— bed sheets, dog beds, toys, food and water bowls, etc.— with soap and hot water. High heat can be used to kill worm eggs.
- Steam clean furniture – To clean furniture, carpets, drapes, etc. we recommend steam cleaning to apply heat.
- Sterilize surfaces – Sterilize all surfaces such as floors and kennels with a strong disinfectant such as Lysol or bleach. We recommend a pet safe disinfecting product called KennelSol.
Deworm puppies immediately: Have your puppy dewormed by a vet prior to bringing it home. Puppies are more susceptible to parasite infections than mature dogs. Most puppies have parasites even when coming from a breeder.
Get your dog tested regularly: Have your vet do a fecal exam once or twice a year or after visiting dog common areas like dog parks, boarding facilities or daycares.
Keep your yard clean: Bag and discard animal feces as soon as possible to avoid your dog from ingesting their own or another household pet’s droppings.
Sanitize your yard regularly: Sanitize dog potty areas regularly to kill parasites. We recommend a product called Wyziwash.
Designate a specific potty area in the yard: Have a designated area for your dog to go potty and then steer clear of those outdoors areas; this keeps your yard as free of animal feces as possible.
Control dog interaction with child areas: Keep your dog away from children’s outdoor play areas such as sandboxes and kiddie pools. Cover them when they are not in use.
Avoid contact with poop: Do not touch contaminated soil, sand, plants, or other objects that have come in contact with your dog’s poop.
Avoid dog parks: Avoid bringing your dog to unmonitored off leash dog areas like dog parks. Dog parks are a hotspot for parasitic infections.
Be careful with waste disposal services: Be aware of the possibility of a dog waste disposal company potentially bringing parasites to your property.