One million Australians sleep alongside their dogs __while they arealso regularly going on holidays, visiting cafes, going shopping and headingto work with their ‘fur babies’

New research released today has revealed the true nature of our relationshipswith our dogs, and the pampered lives our ‘fur babies’ are living as a result.

The Elanco Aussie Dog Survey[1] found that seven out of ten dog owners (72%)now consider their dog to be part of the family, while 16% describe their dogas ‘a mate or friend’ and just 12% describe their dog as ‘a pet’. It alsofound more dogs are sleeping in their owners’ bed at night (27%) than aresleeping outside the home (21%). This means there are more than onemillion Australians sleeping with their dog every night[2].

The research also reveals that we are treating our dogs as if they are people:

  • 42% celebrate their dog’s birthday
  • 1 in 3 cook their dog its own meals
  • 42% ‘only buy the best food and products’ for their dog, and
  • 32% regularly buy gifts for their dog.

Aussie dogs are also living very social lives, with younger dog owners leadingthis trend. Nearly half of all dog owners (47%) take their dogs on holiday atleast once a year – while this increases to 60% of Gen Z dog owners. Dogs arealso joining their owners at cafes and restaurants (32% on average vs 57% ofGen Zs), at the shops (26% on average vs 52% of Gen Zs) and at work (14% taketheir dog to work at least once a month vs 29% of Gen Zs). Meanwhile, 80% ofAussie dogs are regularly exercising with their owner (62% once a week ormore, 30% every day) and two thirds (67%) regularly visit dog parks.

However, alongside all this love and pampering is widespread risky behaviourthat could be helping to spread parasites, such as tapeworm, from dogs topeople. In addition to the one million dog owners sleeping with their dog eachnight, the survey reveals that 2 in 3 (62%) aren’t concerned about their dogspreading parasites to people and therefore aren’t taking adequateprecautions. For example, only 35% of owners said they always wash their handsafter their touching their dog while 58% let their dog lick their hands, and36% let their dog lick their face.

Dr Claude Stanislaus, Technical Veterinary Manager at Elanco Animal Health,says that we need to remember that while we love our dogs, they are not peopleand a casual approach to dog hygiene can actually help spread nasty parasitesto people.

“Unlike us dogs do not take daily showers, they stick their noses in eachother’s bottoms, they sometimes eat animal poo if they find it, and we thenhug them and invite them into our beds! What a lot of people don’t realise isthat we could also be inviting harmful parasites such as hydatid tapeworm intoour bed too.”

“Even if you have the cleanest, most well cared for dog, you can’t vouch forany of the canine friends that they hang out with. A lot of people don’t knowthat parasites like tapeworm and other intestinal worms can spread from dogsto people. And while rare, cases of hydatid tapeworm being transferred fromdogs to humans can lead to serious illness in people, and in very extremecases, even death.”

The research also found that 31% of all dog owners are not picking up aftertheir dog poos in public, this increases to 44% of Gen Z and 39% of Millennialdog owners. This behaviour could inadvertently be leading to health risks, astapeworm can be spread to people through contact with dog poo.

The Elanco study also looked at spending patterns and surprisingly, Gen Z dogowners are most likely to be pampering their dogs. A third of young owners(32%) say they spend more than $3,000 per year on their dog, more than theyspend on phone and internet access or public transport[3]. The research alsofound almost half (45%) of all owners are spending more than $1,800 a year ontheir dog.

“Aussie dogs have never had so much fun, going on holidays with us and evensleeping in our beds, but it’s important to know that ‘normal behaviour’ likethis can also increase the risk of spreading parasites from your dog to youand your family.

“Simple steps such as washing your hands after playing with your dog,regularly de-worming your dog with a broad-spectrum all-wormer product andmaking sure you regularly pick up your dog’s droppings so nasties such ashydatid tapeworm can’t be transferred to people, are all simple things we cando to protect our furry family members, and us, from intestinal worms,” saidDr Stanislaus.

Elanco’s Big 5 tips for protecting your dog and your family againstparasites such as tapeworm

1. Practice good hygiene : Always wash your hands after playing with yourdog and do not to let it lick your face, which helps to minimise the risk ofpassing on any flea or hydatid tapeworm segments or eggs.

2. Dispose of your dog’s droppings
: It’s easy to forget but making this ahabit is a great way to remove the flea and hydatid tapeworm segments or eggsfrom your environment, which lessens the risk of your family becominginfected.

3. Regularly de-worm your dog : You want a product that contains theactive ingredient praziquantel, which kills adult flea and hydatid tapewormliving in your dog’s intestinal tract.

4. Prevent your dog accessing dead animals or poo from other dogs.

5. Make sure your dog is protected against all five major parasites byusing a comprehensive product such as ___The Big 5 Protection Pack_ .*

*The Big 5 Protection Pack protects dogs from paralysis ticks, fleas,heartworm, intestinal worms and flea & hydatid tapeworm.

[1] Survey of 1,013 Australian dog owners conducted by PureProfile on behalfof Elanco Animal Health in February 2019

[2] AMA Pet Ownership in Australia 2016 Report – 3.6 million households own adog


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