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World Zoonoses Day: Step up your dogs' deworming!

New survey reveals the damaging impact dog owners’ habits may be having on their pet’s health, as well as their own!

Nearly one in four dog owners do not treat their dog for intestinal worms, leading to an increased risk of disease transmission to people.

A new study published by researchers on the attitudes and practices of Australian dog owners has revealed that many may be putting their pets, their families and themselves at risk by failing to follow best practice guidelines when it comes to controlling canine intestinal worms.

The first Australian study of its type conducted in over a decade uncovered that alarmingly nearly three-quarters of dog owners (72.3%) do not follow the best practice guidelines of deworming their dog monthly, with nearly 1 in 4 (24.5%) owners never deworming their dog. [1,2]

Furthermore, the majority of dog owners do not properly dispose of their dogs’ faeces within their own backyard, with less than half of respondents (43.7%) removing their dog’s faeces on a daily basis, increasing the risk of parasite infections.

Management practices including monthly deworming and prompt removal of dog faeces, is key in minimising the risks associated with intestinal worms in dogs. As many of the worm species infesting dogs can also infect and cause disease in people (known as a zoonotic disease, or zoonoses) this risk extends to people too, meaning that dog owners’ management practices are key to keeping both pets and people healthy.

That’s why, ahead of World Zoonoses Day (Thursday July 6), Professor Rebecca Traub, a Professor of Veterinary Parasitology and member of the Australian Companion Animal Zoonoses Advisory Panel, is urging dog owners to adopt a monthly deworming routine to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission and prevent exposure to these potentially dangerous parasites.

Speaking to the findings of the study, Professor Traub said, “It is alarming that despite the hazards, the results show there is still a lot to be done to educate pet owners about the risk of disease transmission between pets and people, including the risk posed by canine intestinal worms.

“Dogs, both healthy and sick, may carry a range of different zoonotic organisms and given the close relationship between pets and people and their shared living environment, it is extremely important that dog owners remain vigilant to prevent exposure of these parasites to other dogs and humans both directly, and through contamination of the environment,” said Rebecca.

In addition, a separate study of vets indicated that most considered canine parasitic diseases to be extremely important but identified barriers to client compliance with recommended deworming programs including affordability (63%) and lack of access to information (19%). [3]

Professor Traub noted that, “Last year, we conducted Australia’s first nationwide study investigating the prevalence and distribution and risks associated with canine intestinal worms contaminating dog parks across Australia and it showed that almost half (42.6%) of parks sampled were contaminated with canine intestinal worms.

“While many dog owners are rightly concerned about the risks of dog faeces not being cleaned-up in public locations such as dog parks, this survey highlights the lack of awareness from dog owners for the threat their own home/backyard presents.

“Quite simply, by not deworming dogs monthly and picking up their dogs’ faeces in the dog park and backyard, people are not doing enough to minimise the health risks associated with canine intestinal worms to both dogs and humans,” concluded Rebecca.

To help reduce the risk of zoonotic disease transmission from pets to people, the Australian Companion Animal Zoonoses Advisory Panel has recently developed a set of guidelines. Key recommendations are:

✔️ Regular veterinary health checks for pets

✔️ Ensure good hygiene practices (e.g., handwashing, disposal of pet poo)

✔️ Deworm pets monthly

✔️ Treat pets for external parasites year-round

✔️ Avoid feeding raw meat diets to pets


1. Massetti L, Traub RJ, Rae L, Colella V, Marwedel L, McDonagh P, Wiethoelter A (2023). Canine gastrointestinal parasites perceptions, practices, and behaviours: a survey of dog owners in Australia. One Health (accepted 15 Jun 2023).

2. Australian Companion Animal Zoonoses Advisory Panel (2021) Companion Animal Zoonoses Guidelines.

3. Massetti L, Wiethoelter A, McDonagh P, Rae L, Colella V, Traub RJ (2023). The veterinarian’s perspective and practices for the control of canine endoparasites in Australia. BMC Veterinary Research (under review).

4. Massetti L, Wiethoelter A, McDonagh P, Rae L, Marwedel L, Beugnet F, Colella V, Traub RJ (2022). Faecal prevalence, distribution and risk factors associated with canine soil- transmitted helminths contaminating urban parks across Australia. International Journal of Parasitology, 52(10):637-646. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2022.08.001

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NexGard SPECTRA®, manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, is a tasty once-a-month chew suitable for puppies and dogs from eight weeks of age and weighing at least 2 kg. NexGard SPECTRA® provides the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, all in one tasty chew, and is available in Australia at leading veterinary clinics, pet specialty stores and online. See product label for full claim details and directions for use.

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Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health is working on first-in-class innovation for the prediction, prevention, and treatment of diseases in animals. For veterinarians, pet owners, farmers, and governments in more than 150 countries, we offer a large and innovative portfolio of products and services to improve the health and well-being of companion animals and livestock. As a global leader in the animal health industry and as part of family-owned Boehringer Ingelheim, we take a long-term perspective. The lives of animals and humans are interconnected in deep and complex ways. We know that when animals are healthy, humans are healthier too. By using the synergies between our Animal Health and Human Pharma businesses and by delivering value through innovation, we enhance the health and well-being of both.

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MEDIA RELEASE, 6th July 2023

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