Abandonment, irresponsible care, and overpopulation are the main causes of the large number of dogs roaming free in urban areas or living in shelters. These shelters provide temporary homes for dogs that have been lost, abused, or reported for biting, but also provide an environment that could enable the spread of gastrointestinal parasites. City municipal shelters receive dogs throughout the year, feed them, and provide veterinary care before offering them for adoption. This article reports on the intestinal parasite infections of municipal shelter dogs from San Carlos de Bariloche, Río Negro, Argentina, over 3 consecutive years. Fecal samples were collected from all shelter dogs during the winters of 2017, 2018, and 2019. The samples were examined using Sheather's flotation and Ziehl Neelsen stain techniques to detect parasite eggs and coccidia, respectively. Total prevalence values ranged from 32 to 45%, with a total of 6 parasite taxa found, including coinfections, with a maximum of 2 species. Some dogs seemed to become infected during their stay in the shelter, and despite periodic deworming, some dogs were still parasitized. Zoonotic parasites like Toxocara canis, Toxascaris leonina, and Dibothriocephalus latus were identified in this study. Thus, such shelter dogs may act as disseminators of transmission stages of zoonotic parasites. This work emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about the responsible care of companion animals to prevent the need for shelter care.
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Vol. 88 • No. 1