Dog parks may pose a risk for the transmission of parasitic zoonotic agents via the faeces and soil contact. This is the first study to investigate gastrointestinal infections in park-attending dogs in Lisbon. The research was carried out under the frame of a field study including both parasitological and a survey approach. 369 faecal and 18 soil samples were collected from three dog parks in the Lisbon area and analysed for parasite eggs. 102 questionnaires were filled. The overall prevalence for positive faecal samples was 33%. Ancylostomatidae represent 17%, Cryptosporidium spp. 12%, Giardia spp. 11%, Toxascaris leonina and Cystoisospora spp. 1% each, Toxocara spp. 0.5% and Sarcocystis spp. 0.3%. From soil samples, 28% were contaminated with only Ancylostomatidae eggs. In the last 12 months 94% of the dogs were observed by a veterinarian. 90% were dewormed in the previous six months, from which 28% at least four times a year. Additionally, 26% of the dogs share the house with at least one dog, 50% visit the park daily, and 75% were always allowed to be off-leash. Also, 1% was fed with raw meat. Despite 94% of the owner’s claimed faecal collection of their pets, it was common to see 10-20 faecal samples on the environment of every dog space on sampling days. Regarding the pet-owner relationship, 76% of the dogs were allowed to lick their owners’ faces, 82% to be in their bedroom and 43% to sleep in their bed. Approximately one third of faecal samples of dogs in canine parks was infected with gastrointestinal parasites, some with potential zoonotic risk. Less than a quarter of the dogs were dewormed following the recommended schedule (at least 4 times a year). The majority of the owners have close physical contact with their dogs, increasing the transmission risk of zoonoses. Public awareness about potential risks and preventive procedures is therefore advised.
Mason N McLary
|Publisher||Universidade de Lisboa|
|Location of Publication||Lisbon, Portugal|
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