Dog Health Concerns

There are many different parasites that use dogs as their host. Some of these parasites are also capable of infecting humans, sometimes with devastating results.

* Health risks from pet waste can include:

1. Roundworms  6. Tape worms  11. Parvo
2. Hookworms  7. Coccidia  12. Coronavirus
3. Whipworms  8. Cryptosporidium  13. Giardiasis
4. Pinworms  9. Toxoplasmosis  14. Salmonellosis
5. Ringworm  10. Heartworm  15. Campylobacteriosis

* Having UNDERDOGS scooping and hauling away the pet waste from your yard also means having a trained eye monitoring the health of your pets. Our staff will report to you any blood, diarrhea, foreign objects, parasites, vomit or any other abnormalities found in your pets feces while cleaning your property.


  1. Roundworms grow to be 3-5 inches long and their body is white and round. The eggs or larva of the roundworm are found in the soil and are easily picked up by your hands and transferred to your mouth or absorbed through your skin. Dogs will often ingest the roundworm eggs through normal grooming after it has rolled or taken a nap in the yard. Dogs can also ingest the roundworm after eating a rodent. Roundworms will live in the human and animal digestive system and cause a variety of health problems. Signs and symptoms of roundworm infestation can include; abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite, pneumonia, muscle and joint pain, liver and lung damage and blocked bowels. Puppies commonly will present with a “pot belly” appearance, dry coat, stunted growth and diarrhea and in severe cases roundworm will cause bowel blockage and even death. Roundworms that get lost in the human body may become trapped in the blood vessels behind the eye (Ocular Larva Migrans). If the worm dies in the eye it will cause an extreme inflamatory reaction, blindness usually follows.
  2. Hookworms may accidentally infect humans. This can happen when your bare foot walks on contaminated soil. The larvae penetrates the skin causing an allergic reaction that causes an “itchy patch” on the bottom of your foot. Once the larvae has broken the skin they travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, the esophagus and finally into the intestines where they attach themselves to the intestinal wall. Signs and symptoms of hookworm infestation can include abdominal cramping, colic, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, anemia in severa cases, weakness, dry cough. Hookworms infect dogs by penetrating the paws or whan the dog eats grass and soil. It is also important to know that the female hoohworm can produce up to 30,000 eggs per day.
  3. Whipworms are about a 1/4 inch long and get their name because of their characteristic long whiplike shape This worm does well in soil that is warm, moist and shaded. Dogs will often ingest the whipworm egg through normal grooming after it has rolled or taken a nap in the yard. The eggs can attach to a human hand while petting your dog or gardening and is then transferred to your mouth. After the worm burrown into the intestine it uses it’s “whip” to slash at the lining of the bowels causing bleeding which the worm feeds on. Whipworm live a long time and will reinfect humans and animals constantly. Signs and symptoms of whipworm infestation can include; abdominal pain, bloody stools, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, acute respiratory distress syndrome and possibly anemia.
  4. Pinworms are the most common intestinal roundworm and are threadlike and grow to about the length of a staple. The pinworm live in the rectum and colon and mostly infects children because children put everything in their mouths. The female pinworm releases thousands of eggs that will cling to almost anything including balls, toys, food, clothing, door handles etc. The eggs are also easily scattered into the air with dust. Signs and symptoms of pinworm infestation may include rectal itching, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, irritability, loss of appetite.
  5. Ringworm is actually not a worm at all. it is a fungus infection that presents as a red scaly itchy ring or oval shape on the skin, and varies in size. Ringworm will eventually heal in the middle resembling a ring. Ringworm is a contagious infection that spreads easily with skin-to-skin contact from an infected person or pet.
  6. Tapeworm is long with a flat body resembling a piece of tape. They are usually 6 inches or more and live on the nutrients in the food in the intestines. Tapeworms have grown large enough to block the bowels in both humans and animals. They attach themselves to the intestinal lining and shed segments of their body the size of a grain of rice containing eggs and are often found in the infected person or pet. The sack of eggs will dry and crack open releasing the larvae and are often ingested by fleas. The tape worm will continue to grow inside the flea. The dog or cat ingests the flea through normal grooming. The flea is then digested releasing the tapeworm into the digestive system. Humans can also accidentally ingest a tapeworm larvae or flea and become infested with tapeworm. Intestinal infestation of tapeworm frequently occurs without symptoms; occasionally there is abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, constipation or weight loss.
  7. Coccidia is a microscopic parasite that infects the intestines of your pets not humans. Coccidia is not a worm. Causes your pet to have very watery diarrhea, sometimes bloody and can be life threatening. Your pet may ingest coccidia during normal grooming, eating grass or eating rodents. Coccidia are found in the soil of a fecal contaminated yard. The parasite reproduces in the intestinal cells ultimately destroying the cell causing it to burst. As more and more intestinal cells are destroyed, intestinal function is disrupted by bloody watery diarrhea.
  8. Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes severe diarrhea. Once the person or animal is infected, the parasite lives in the intestine and passes in the stool. The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time. The parasite can be found in soil and all drinking and recreational water in the United States. Signs and symptoms of cryptosporidiosis is watery diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss. abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting and fever.
  9. Toxoplasmosis is a protozoan organism (can affect many animals most notably cats and humans). Most Doctors will recommend that a pregnant woman does not keep a cat as a pet or at the very least stays away from the litter box because of the risks to an unborn child. Signs and symptoms of toxoplasma can include general illness, elevated fever, swollen lymph nodes, swollen liver, muscle stiffness, joint tenderness and pain and abdominal pain. This can last 1-12 weeks and may be tolerated or diagnosed as a common cold/flu. However, if a pregnant woman is infected and the toxoplasma crosses the placenta to the unborn baby at an early stage of pregnancy this may result in a miscarriage or stillbirth, blindness, severe neurological conditions like retardation, hydrocephalus and microcephaly. The toxoplasma organism is shed in the cat feces which can attach to the human hand from the litter box or simply from petting a cat and then to your mouth often while eating. The infected cat may or may not show signs of diarrhea. Also use caution when gardening since cats (not necessarily your own) like to defecate in the soft clean garden soil.
  10. Heartworm can grow up to 14 inches long and live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of the infected dog. Dogs become infected when a mosquito sucks a larval heartworm out of an infected dog or coyotes bloodstream and deposits it into a new dog. As the heartworms increase in numbers and grow in size they take up space in the heart and pulmonary arteries causing inflammation and the heart must work harder to get blood into the vital organs. As the heart and pulmonary arteries become plugged with heartworms the blood will clot and the dog will not survive. The dog may not show signs and symptoms of heartworm infestation for up to two years. The most obvious signs are dry, soft chronic cough, shortness of breath, nervousness, weakness, fatigue and exercise intolerance. Although humans can contract heartworm, it is very rare.
  11. Parvo is a virus and is a relatively new disease that appeared in 1978. The main source of the virus is the feces of an infected dog. The virus is ingested and carried to the intestinal walls where it causes inflammation. The parvovirus is easily from fur and paws of an infected dog to shoes, clothes and almost anything. Direct contact is not necessary for a dog to spread this deadly virus. Once infected the dog will become ill in 7-10 days causing severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea. Parvo can affect all ages of dogs but is most commonly seen in puppies and is often referred to as ” the puppy killer”. The virus causes a loss of the intestinal tract, electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and an infection in the bloodstream. it is usually fatal when the bacteria from the intestinal tract enters the bloodstream. Parvo is not transmitted to humans or cats.
  12. Corona Virus is a virus that affects the intestinal tract of dogs, which causes gastroenteritis similar to parvo and is highly contagious to all age dogs. Signs of corona virus can include depression, fever, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, watery diarrhea yellow-orange in color or bloody with a very strong odor. The most common route of infection is when a dog is exposed to fecal material containing the virus.
  13. Giardiasis is an intestinal disease that affects most warm-blooded animals and humans after consuming food or water contaminated with giardia cysts. Once in the gastrointestinal tract it divides rapidly and attach to cells in the upper small intestine in large Numbers. This causes disease by blocking absorption, competing for nutrients and producing toxic substances. Giardia can severely damage the lining of the small intestine. Signs and symptoms of giardia can include bloody, watery or mucus diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting or greasy stools.
  14. Salmonellosis is a bacteria found in raw foods as most people are aware of. However, an infected animal will also have salmonella in their feces. Humans can become infected with salmonella from contact with an infected pet or it’s feces. The illness may last 4-7 days and most people recover without treatment. However, some people may suffer from diarrhea so severe that they must be hospitalized. With these people the infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and to other parts of the body causing death if not treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants and people with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. Signs and symptoms can include abdominal pain that will start 12-72 hours after the infection, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, fever and headache.
  15. Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that infects the intestinal tract. The bacteria are generally spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water by direct or indirect contact with an animal or pets feces (especially puppies and kittens). The bacteria may cause mild to severe diarrhea, fever, traces of blood in the stool and abdominal pain. In rare cases, the bacteria can spread to the bloodstream and can cause a life threatening infection. Campylobacteriosis is more common during the summer months.