Coproscopic examination of 505 dogs originating from the western or central part of Switzerland revealed the presence (prevalence data) of the following helminthes: Toxocara canis (7.1%), hookworms (6.9%), Trichuris vulpis (5.5%), Toxascaris leonina (1.3%), Taeniidae (1.3%), Capillaria spp. (0.8%), and Diphyllobothrium latum (0.4%). Potential risk factors for infection were identified by a questionnaire: dogs from rural areas significantly more often had hookworms and taeniid eggs in their feces when compared to urban family dogs. Access to small rodents, offal, and carrion was identified as risk factor for hookworm and Taeniidae, while feeding of fresh and uncooked meat did not result in higher prevalences for these helminths. A group of 111 dogs was treated every 3 months with a combined medication of pyrantel embonate, praziquantel, and febantel, and fecal samples were collected for coproscopy in monthly intervals. Despite treatment, the yearly incidence of T. canis was 32%, while hookworms, T. vulpis, Capillaria spp., and Taeniidae reached incidences ranging from 11 to 22%. Fifty-seven percent of the 111 dogs had helminth eggs in their feces at least once during the 1-year study period. This finding implicates that an infection risk with potential zoonotic pathogens cannot be ruled out for the dog owner despite regular deworming four times a year.
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We are grateful to U. Brönnimann and P. Stünzi for excellent technical assistance. Furthermore, the collection of samples from and the clinical examination of the dogs by the veterinarians is greatly acknowledged. We are also thankful to all the dog owners who were willing to participate in this study. This project was financed by the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office (BVET). Additional support was obtained from the EU project no. BBW 00.0498.
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