A leading charity vet has backed a pharmaceutical firm’s call for greater public awareness of the potential threats posed to livestock by tapeworm in dogs.
Research conducted on behalf of Vetoquinol UK has suggested around half of the country’s dog owners are unaware of the link and a similar proportion are not currently treating their dogs for the parasite.
Now, the company, which produces the tapeworming product Droncit, is urging both vets and pet owners not to forget about the issue when making decisions on how pets should be cared for.
The effort is also being supported by Luke Gamble, the founder and chief executive of Worldwide Vet Service (WVS).
He said: “Tapeworm can be a real issue and be passed on to livestock, which in turn costs our farming industry millions of pounds each year. This is something, understandably, many would have no idea about and struggle to see how there’s an impact.
“However, there is no doubting the link between owners not picking up after their pets and transmission to livestock, and even in some cases, humans.
”It is important for owners to ensure their dog is given worming treatment at the frequency recommended by their vets, to avoid issues both outdoors and within the home.”
A poll of 2,000 dog owners, which was carried out on Vetoquinol’s behalf by OnePoll, found more than one-third (36%) of respondents were more likely to leave dog faeces behind in a rural field and, therefore, potentially leave a trail of shed tapeworm eggs behind.
Sheep are known to act as an intermediate host for the parasite and infections caused by them are estimated to have cost UK farmers more than £11 million in 2021 alone, due to meat from them being condemned as unfit.
But just more than half of the dog owners surveyed (51%) said they were unaware of the impact tapeworm can have on livestock, while nearly two-thirds (64%) admitted they did not think about what could be left behind once they have picked up after their pets.
Meanwhile, separate analysis of around 1,000 dog owners, carried out as part of Vetoquinol’s own parasitology research, also found that only a small majority of owners (54%) were treating their dog for tapeworm. The company said it had developed a range of support materials, which can be accessed through local managers, to support its message that vets need to give greater consideration to tapeworm when in practice.
A spokesperson added: “While other parasites have been the target of educational awareness campaigns, tapeworm is often lower down on the list and we want to help give this important issue a renewed voice.
“The main message to vets in practice is ‘don’t forget about tapeworm’. With widespread use of broad spectrum endectocide products providing excellent control of ectoparasites and nematode worms, this campaign aims to ensure tapeworm control is still part of routine parasite protection conversations.”
However, the drive for increased use of worming treatments could potentially raise concerns about a knock-on environmental impact.
Earlier this year, researchers at Imperial College London urged vets to be much more cautious about the use of flea and tick treatments on companion animals, because of the high and potentially toxic levels of parasiticides found in some urban waterways.
However, Vetoquinol’s spokesperson said: “We support responsible use of parasiticides, determining suitable frequencies based on individual lifestyles and assessment of relative risk. While balance is necessary here, we feel it is important to consider all relevant factors to make informed choices.
“With this campaign, we aim to remind vets and educate pet owners as to the risks tapeworm can present, so this is not overlooked when making these decisions.”
Credit to: Practitioners and owners told not to forget tapeworm threat (Vet Times)
Vet Times. (2023). Practitioners and owners told not to forget tapeworm threat [online]
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