Why Pick up Dog Poop? The Dangers of Dog Feces
Why Pick up Dog Poop?
"I pay taxes, why should I have to pick up dog poop?"
"It's like fertilizer - it's good to let is stay there!"
"Dogs are part of nature - letting their poop stay on the ground is natural, too."
Have you heard, or even thought, these excuses before? Approximately 40% of dog-owning Americans polled have admitted they don't pick up after their pet. Unfortunately, cleaning up after your dog is your responsibility as a pet owner. Even if you keep your dog contained to your own yard, taking the time to regularly clean up after it helps keep your family and community safe. Once you discover the threats dog feces pose to humans and the environment, you won't want to leave the house without a plastic pick up bag again!
Dog Poop Dangers
Dog poop smells bad and no one likes stepping in it, but it is more than an inconvenience: it is a legitimate danger. Dog poop dangers come in several forms.
- It poisons grass and lawns.
- It carries hookworms, ringworms, tapeworms, and more.
- It transmits human diseases, too!
- It pollutes waterways and is in the same EPA category as oil and mine runoff!
Dog Poop Is not Fertilizer
Cow manure is an age-old, and effective, fertilizer, but dog poop is not. Cows are herbivores and their poop is pretty much broken down plant matter. It's sort of like smelly compost. Well, just like you're not supposed to put meat products in your compost bin, a dog's diet makes its poop very poor as a fertilizer. In fact, it is usually pretty toxic to plants. It is very acidic and will kill your grass if left unattended. Have you ever picked up an old bit of doggie business and found the grass withered and yellow beneath? It isn't just from the blocked sunlight - dog poop is literally poison for plants. Actually putting it in your garden as fertilizer (yes, people try this!) can contaminate your fruits and veggies with harmful bacteria. Even if you don't intentionally place dog poop in your garden, runoff can make your produce unsafe.
Dog Poop Carries Disease
Of course, dog poop can carry worms. This means if your dog visits the park and someone else left dog poop with worm eggs laying on the ground, your pup is vulnerable. Dog poop can carry human-infecting ailments, too, including vicious parasites. Among other things, Fido feces can include:
- E. coli
- Parvo virus
- Roundworms (the CDC shows 14% of Americans are infected with roundworms)
- Up to 23 million coliform bacterial per gram of poop!
Integrated leash/bag holders make it impossible to forget a bag when going out for a walk!
Dog Poop Contaminates Water
I don't know how many times I've heard someone tell me not to worry about a particular piece of poop because it was about to rain soon, anyway. Not picking up fresh poop before rainfall is even worse than letting it sit on a dry day!
When the rain washes over dog poop and flows into the drainage system, that contaminated water is carried into local waterways. If you like to hang out at a nearby river or lake, this means the fecal water is mixed in where you enjoy swimming and boating! Studies indicate that about 90% of fecal coliform bacteria, which is used as a measure of water health and quality, is of non-human origin, mostly canine. Dog poop is considered so dangerous that it is in the same EPA pollutant category as oil and runoff from abandon mines, and two or three days worth of un-picked up poop from 100 dogs can cause a big enough spike in bacteria levels to necessitate closing waterways within 20 miles to swimming and shell fishing.
Using a rake scooper makes it easy to clean your yard without smashing poop into the grass.
How to Dispose of Dog Poop
There are many different ways to dispose of dog poop:
- Use special, biodegradable pick up bags and throw it in the trash.
- Reuse your plastic grocery bags to pick it up.
- Flush it down the toilet (this is okay for dog poop, but some bacteria in cat poop can survive water treatment).
- Hire a professional poop removal company.
For More Infromation
Here are some additional resources on dog poop and the dangers it poses. Please check them out!
- Animals: Dogs | CDC Healthy Pets Healthy People
Pets provide many benefits to humans. They comfort us and they give us companionship. However, some animals can also pass diseases to people. These diseases are called zoonoses.
- DoodyCalls: Earth Day 2012 Infographic
Doggie deposits - America's overlooked environmental pollutant. We love our dogs, except when it comes to dealing with the waste they leave behind. This Earth Day, remember to pick up after your pets. Every scoop make a difference.
- U.S. Waters Polluted by 10 Million Tons of Dog Poop | Care2 Causes
The 78 million dogs living in the United States create 10 million tons of feces annually, polluting waterways and posing a threat to public health, according to a pet waste removal service asking Americans to pledge to scoop the poop this Earth Day.
Please Pick up the Poop!
The next time you take your dog to the park or on a walk, please take the time to clean up. Even if your dog only poops in your yard, letting it remain unattended is an invitation for illness and endangers others in your community. I know it isn't fun or glamorous, but picking up dog poop is a necessary part of dog ownership. Just like getting your furry friend an annual rabies shot is an important preventative health measure, picking up his poop is an easy way to prevent disease and keep your community's waterways healthy.