Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
How often have you almost stepped in — or actually stepped in —
dog poop that was left on the ground? Pet waste that isn't properly disposed of isn't just a hazard waiting to happen to your favorite pair of shoes, and it doesn’t just disappear (unless you have a friendly neighborhood pet waste disposal person).
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers pet waste a "nonpoint source pollutant." This type of pollution is caused by runoff from rainfall or snowmelt moving over the ground, picking up the pollutant and depositing it into natural bodies of water and underground drinking water. Herbicides and insecticides are found in the same category.
When pet waste is left on the ground, it can have a devastating impact on
lawns and, more important, on the larger environment as well. It also poses a threat to people and other animals.
Two of the greatest dangers of unattended pet waste are the parasites and bacteria found inside it.
Roundworm eggs last for years, and [because of this], dog waste should not go in compost that will end up as vegetable garden fertilizers.
Hookworms are a concern in sandy areas where people are on the beach or barefoot in parks and playgrounds since these worms will migrate under the skin, causing scars,” says Steve B. Thompson, DVM, DABVP, clinical associate professor at
Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Pet Wellness Clinic at Purdue. “These two worms are the primary reason for ‘pooper scooper’ laws at beaches and public parks.”
Other bacteria and
parasites that can survive in dog and
cat waste include
Escherichia coli (
Cat feces can also contain
Toxoplasma gondii, which can lead to the disease
If waste is not picked up, people and pets are at risk for being infected or reinfected with these parasites. Pets who walk through your house after being in an area with unattended waste can also increase your exposure to these dangers because they may track that waste into your home. For the same reason, children who play outside in areas frequented by dogs or
cats should always wash their hands afterward, just in case they came in contact with pet feces.
Although waste that gets into the water can spread these parasites and bacteria, waste's high concentrations of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus can also harm aquatic ecosystems. It can contribute to the nutrient pollution that causes
algal blooms, which kill aquatic life and plants and can make people and pets sick.
According to the
EPA, “2 to 3 days of droppings from a population of 100
dogs contribute enough bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus to temporarily close a bay to swimming and shellfishing.”
While some people think pet waste acts as a good fertilizer because of these nutrients, leaving waste on your lawn can have the opposite effect, causing "lawn burn" and killing grass.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
In an effort to expand their range, a group
of 18 Rothschild’s giraffes were
translocated across the Nile River.
In honor of Thank a Mail Carrier Day, we're sharing tips to help get your canine
to stop barking at the mailman.
Thinking about bringing a feline into your
life but aren’t sure whether you’re
prepared? Start with these…
February is Dental Health Month, which
means it's time to pay attention to your
dog's or cat's oral health.
Ever wonder how canines can walk
barefoot on the ice and snow in winter?
Dr. Sarah Wooten reveals the science.
We had 793 readers rank the quietest
dogs, and we bet you’ll be surprised by
how many big breeds made the list!
The Ocicat’s spots make her look like a wild animal, but this domestic feline is known for her love of people.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.