Could Your Dog Be Spreading Worms at the Dog Park?

Visiting with friends at the dog park is one of my favorite things to do. Especially this year! Having daily contact with our dog friends is keeping me, Lucy and Burt sane. On the other hand, this year has also taught me to be extra cautious about everyday health risks at our favorite public places, like the dog park.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Elanco Animal Health. The opinions and text are all my own.

Prevent the spread of worms and parasites at the dog park

While we’re all learning so much about keeping health a top priority, it’s a great time to brush up on preventative care to keep our dogs healthy, too. Even if we social distance at the dog park, there are still hidden risks for our pups such as hookworm, whipworm or roundworm. 

Over the course of a recent study conducted by Oklahoma State University in collaboration with Elanco Animal Health and IDEXX, researchers tested fecal samples from dogs who visited dog parks in 30 cities across the United States.

Approximately 1 in 5 dogs in the study were found to be infected with intestinal worms or giardia. That’s why intestinal worm and parasite prevention should be a top concern for all pet parents.

Prevent the spread of worms and parasites at the dog park

Prevent the spread of worms and parasites at the dog park

Keeping Your Unofficial Emotional Support Dog Healthy

This year people are spending more time with their dogs than ever before. In addition to the added quality time, 68% of people polled in a recent survey by Elanco said their dogs have become even more of an emotional companion over the course of the pandemic.

If you’re part of that majority, then I know you want to keep your unofficial emotional support dog healthy! It doesn’t matter if you’re a new dog owner or a lifetime pack leader, keeping your dog healthy is an important factor in keeping them in your life for as long as possible. 

Before you head out the door on all kinds of adventures with your dog, make sure you’re prepared. There are a lot of health risks out there! Everyday activities can lead to parasites like hookworm, whipworm, roundworm and heartworm. At least one type of worm or intestinal parasite was found at 85% of the dog parks in the DogPARCS study.

Prevent the spread of worms and parasites at the dog park

I Haven’t Always Been Great at Worm Prevention

These days, people at the dog park often ask if I’m a “professional dog mom”! That’s because I seem to have a product, research or experience in almost any dog-related question that comes up. 

But it wasn’t always that way!

A few years ago, I was actually pretty indifferent about Lucy’s worm prevention plan. I gave her a preventive most months, but I wasn’t strict about it. If I ran out or missed one, I didn’t think it was a big deal. Not to mention, I wasn’t even thinking about other types of worms like intestinal parasites.

Then one day we were at the veterinarian for her annual check-up. The vet asked me about Lucy’s worm prevention plan. I was honest and said I did it, but not all the time. I asked if it’s really a big deal? 

What she told me forever changed my perspective on worm prevention.

The vet told me that symptoms of certain worms can be very painful for your dog and the treatment can be long and expensive. Many other common types of worms can also go unnoticed and untreated while your dog is sick. It could be a while until you notice symptoms like diarrhea, lethargy and weight loss.

Prevent the spread of worms and parasites at the dog park

Since none of my dogs ever had worms, I never even thought about it as a threat. 

But when I found out that worms could cause Lucy such discomfort that convinced me to get strict about worm prevention and fecal testing. 

Considering that we go to some kind of park almost every day, it’s important to take this seriously and keep my dogs healthy. 

How do dogs contract worms at the park?

According to The DogPARCS study, of the estimated 76 million pet dogs in the U.S., more than 15 million could be unintentionally spreading worms or other intestinal parasites every day. That means there’s a lot of unwanted guests lurking around the park!

The most common ways your dog could contract worms and parasites are by:

  • Rolling in, sniffing or eating contaminated dirt, dog poo or vomit
  • Getting bit by a contaminated mosquito, flea or tick
  • Playing with another infected dog 
  • Self-grooming, like licking their paws, after a walk or hike

I’m not telling you this to scare you! But as a pet parent, the more you know, the easier it is to prevent bad things from happening to your pup. 

Prevent the spread of worms and parasites at the dog park

Ways You Can Prevent the Spread of Worms to Your Dog

Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to prevent the spread of worms and parasites. I take my dogs on a ton of adventures and we love to explore new parks. Since prevention is key, I stay on top of routine fecal testing and monthly use of a broad-spectrum parasiticide. Plus, I also ALWAYS pick up poo and dispose of it properly.

Follow these steps to keep your own dog healthy and help prevent the spread of worms:

  1. Stay ahead of the worms and make a year-round, broad-spectrum dewormer part of your monthly routine.
  2. Talk to your vet about fecal exams as part of your dog’s annual check-up.
  3. Keep an eye on your dog to help avoid common exposures like another animal’s poop.
  4. Pick up after your dog on walks, at the park, and at home.

One other tip that I’d add to that list is to wash your hands! I know we’re all washing our hands a lot these days, but it’s important to keep up with that and wash your hands well after every dog walk. 

Click here to read more about The DogPARCs study.

Prevent the spread of worms and parasites at the dog park by picking up poop

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Elanco Animal Health. The opinions and text are all my own. At Wear Wag Repeat I only write about products and brands we truly love.

Did you enjoy this post? Check these out, too:
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The Best Dog-Friendly Independent Shops Across America
Supplementing Your Dog’s Diet with Rebecca Rose of InClover
Healthy Kong Stuffing Recipes that my Labradors Love


is your dog spreading worms

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Tori Mistick Labrador Dog Mom Blog

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Tori Mistick is a blogger, podcaster and certified Canine Enrichment Specialist. You might call her a professional dog mom! Tori has a soft spot for senior dogs and loves the color pink. Based in Pittsburgh, PA.


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