Dangers of Dog Poo in our Calgary Parks

Spring is in the air and the snow is melting, revealing flowers, green grass, and …….hmmmmm…..dog pooh?  Yuck!  Not only is that melting pooh disgusting, it can actually be dangerous.  Some of the stool may contain worm eggs.  Those eggs can infect our pets or, even worse, our children.  If worm eggs from infected feces get into our children, they can cause organ damage, blindness or even brain damage.  Thankfully, this is very rare in Calgary, Alberta, but even one case is one too many. 

Prevention is the key.


Almost all puppies are born with worms.  They get the worms from their mom.  Mom may have been de-wormed and may not have any worms in her intestines.  However, she will still have worms hiding in a dormant state in her tissues.  When dogs get pregnant, these worms wake up with the sole purpose of infecting the puppies.  The worms reach the puppies through the placenta or through the mother’s milk.


Puppies should be de-wormed at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age, and then once a month to prevent the shedding of worm eggs.  Make an appointment with your Horizon Veterinary Hospital as soon as you get your new puppy.  Bring in all of your paperwork from the breeder or the pet store.  Not all de-wormers are equally effective, and your veterinarian may not agree with how your puppy has been de-wormed so far.  Your first puppy visit should provide you with a de-worming plan and a supply of the appropriate de-wormer.


The worm eggs in the stool take a couple of weeks to become active.  It is therefore important to pick up and discard dog poop immediately.  When you are house-training your new puppy, it is also a good idea to teach your puppy to defecate in only one area of the yard.  This area can be modified to make it easy to clean up; you can use gravel or even a concrete pad.  Teach your children to stay away from the puppy’s bathroom.  A puppy with only a few worms can produce hundreds of thousands of worm eggs per day.  In a week or two you could have millions of worm eggs in your backyard!  It is important to de-worm puppies early and properly because the worm eggs can survive in the soil for decades. 


Once the puppy de-worming is finished you will have to decide how often you want to de-worm your dog throughout the year.  Dogs that have a high risk of becoming infected again need to be de-wormed repeatedly.  This is particularly important for dogs that go to off-leash parks.  Your dog can become infected simply by stepping on or rolling in infected poop, then licking themselves.  And don’t forget that we share our off leash parks with coyotes, skunks and raccoons.  Wild animals are almost always loaded with intestinal parasites, which can then infect our dogs and our kids.


 Intestinal worms are a serious health concern.  Clean up after your pet, and pick up the poop that others have missed.  If you see someone fail to pick up after their pet, ask if they need a bag.  Talk to your Horizon Veterinarian about a safe (and very affordable) de-wormer, and an appropriate de-worming plan.  A little effort now and in the months and years to come can go a very long way towards minimizing the risk of illness in our children.


Article By:  Dr. Martin Lovo