An estimated 6 million pet dogs live in Canadian households with the potential to transmit zoonotic pathogens to humans. Dogs have been identified as carriers of Salmonella, Giardia and Campylobacter spp., particularly Campylobacter upsaliensis, but little is known about the prevalence and risk factors for these pathogens in pet dogs that visit dog parks. This study examined the prevalence of these organisms in the faeces of dogs visiting dog parks in three cities in south-western Ontario, as well as risk factors for shedding Campylobacter spp. and C. upsaliensis. From May to August 2009, canine faecal samples were collected at ten dog parks in the cities of Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Owners were asked to complete a questionnaire related to pet characteristics and management factors including age, diet and activities in which the dog participates. Faecal samples were collected from 251 dogs, and 189 questionnaires were completed. Salmonella, Giardia and Campylobacter spp. were present in 1.2%, 6.4% and 43.0% of faecal samples, respectively. Of the Campylobacter spp. detected, 86.1% were C. upsaliensis, 13% were C. jejuni and 0.9% were C. coli. Statistically significant sparing factors associated with the shedding of Campylobacter spp. included the feeding of a commercial dry diet and the dog's exposure to compost. Age of dog had a quadratic effect, with young dogs and senior dogs having an increased probability of shedding Campylobacter spp. compared with adult dogs. The only statistically significant risk factor for shedding C. upsaliensis was outdoor water access including lakes and ditches, while dogs >1 year old were at a lower risk than young dogs. Understanding the pet-related risk factors for Campylobacter spp. and C. upsaliensis shedding in dogs may help in the development of awareness and management strategies to potentially reduce the risk of transmitting this pathogen from dogs to humans.
Keywords: Campylobacter; Dogs; Giardia; Salmonella; Zoonoses; risk factors.
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