Two studies into the control of worms in working dogs has revealed mixed results.
During the Australian Sheep Veterinarians conference recently, Dr David Jenkins from Charles Sturt University, said that while farmers have made inroads into the control of parasitic disease in dogs, there’s still more work to be done in the area of parasite prevention.
“The results of these studies, which involved 1670 dogs, are encouraging in that we’re seeing fewer cases of tapeworm in working sheep dogs. We can attribute this to a few factors including palatable and relatively inexpensive commercial dry dog food, the inclusion of tapeworm control in parasite prevention products and the increased uptake in worm prevention from farmers.
“Many owners are providing their working sheep dogs with a good diet and using a parasite prevention control, which are both critical in preventing worms. This is certainly good news and owners should be praised for their efforts in this area.
“The not-so good news is that hookworms and whipworms in rural dogs are still common and we need farmers to work with their veterinarian to ensure they are doing all the right things to prevent this type of parasitic infection in their dog,” Dr Jenkins said.
According to the studies, dry dog food is the most commonly fed food for rural dogs. Yet despite this, many owners also feed raw meat or raw offal to their dogs, which increases the risk of parasitic infections, especially if owners do not deworm their dogs frequently enough to ensure they are adequately protected.
“Due to the nature of living and working on farms, sheep dogs are at an increased risk of parasitic disease.
“For the most part, it appears that owners are increasingly aware of the importance of preventing parasite infections and are trying to do the right thing by their dogs to keep them healthy. In addition to deworming and feeding safe foods this includes keeping a clean area where the dogs are kennelled and providing a pen or similar space with a concrete base for the dog which allows for easy cleaning.
“However, if we’re going to see a decline in parasitic disease in working sheep dogs, it’s essential that owners have all the right information and that they’re acting on it.
“These studies really point to the fact that an ongoing conversation needs to be happening between farmers and their veterinarian to ensure dogs on farms are best protected against parasitic infections,” he said.