Gastrointestinal bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections of dogs are important to veterinarians not only because of the disease potential, but also because of the zoonotic risk. The concern is increased for dogs that live in households with immunocompromised people. This study evaluated 71 dog admitted to the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital with acute diarrhea. In 59 cases, a fecal sample from an age-matched control without signs of gastrointestinal disease was submitted at the same time as the sample from the sick dog. Enteropathogens were detected in 29.6% of dogs with diarrhea and 22% of the control dogs. Potentially zoonotic agents that were detected included Giardia species, Cryptosporidium parvum, Toxocara canis, Salmonella species, Ancylostoma caninum, and Campylobacter jejuni.

This study confirms that regular fecal analyses in dogs should be part of a comprehensive preventive health care plan. Dogs living in homes with immunocompromised individuals should be evaluated for a wide range of zoonotic pathogens.

Prevalence of enteric pathogens in dogs of north-central Colorado. Hackett T, Lappin MR. JAAHA 39:52-56, 2003.