Contamination of dog hair with eggs of Toxocara canis

Vet Parasitol. 2008 Mar 25;152(1-2):85-93. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2007.12.008. Epub 2007 Dec 15.


Toxocara canis, the common intestinal nematode of dogs and foxes, is the parasite responsible for human toxocarosis. It has recently been shown that dogs may harbour eggs of the parasite in their fur. To further investigate this claim a population of 100 stray dogs was examined to establish the prevalence and intensity of adult toxocaral worm infection in the intestines and eggs harboured in the hair. A novel method of washing the eggs from the hair was used. Sixty-seven percent of dogs were found to have T. canis eggs on their hair with a mean egg retrieval of nearly 584 eggs per gram from positive dogs. The age of the dog was found to be the only significant factor to influence the prevalence and intensity of eggs, with 95% of all the eggs recovered found on puppies. Thirty-nine percent of dogs were found to have adult T. canis worms in their intestine, although a significantly higher percentage of puppies (80%) were infected with worms than adults (22.5%). Puppies also had more worms per infection than adults and have a strong positive correlation between egg and worms numbers whereas adults did not. These studies show that stray dogs, particularly puppies, potentially harbour considerable numbers of eggs on their hair, at densities far higher than those reported in the soil or the general environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases / transmission*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Hair / parasitology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parasite Egg Count / veterinary
  • Prevalence
  • Toxocara canis / isolation & purification*
  • Toxocariasis / epidemiology
  • Toxocariasis / transmission*
  • Zoonoses*