Nothing can ruin your neighborhood stroll or a walk in the park as quickly as stepping into a stinky mess of dog poo. It’s frustrating when people don’t pick up after their pets because, quite frankly, it’s rude! But as it turns out, there’s more to bagging your pup’s pile than social decency; all the waste that’s left behind can actually have a major impact on the environment.
Below are 4 reasons you should pick up after your companion, aside from simply being a good neighbor.
1. Pet Waste Carries Diseases and Bacteria
Not only does dog poop look and smell bad, but it can also be rife with bacteria and parasites that will cause humans, dogs, and local wildlife to become sick. If someone unknowingly steps in it and goes about their day, then they may be putting the health of others at risk everywhere they go — at work, to the store, or in people’s homes!
According to the CDC, the diseases are commonly transmitted to humans through animal waste are:
- Campylobacter – an infectious disease that often causes diarrhea, fever, and cramps, but can enter the bloodstream and lead to a serious infection
- Giardiasis – a parasite that causes diarrhea and dehydration in humans and animals
- Hookworm – a parasite that can cause a skin condition or even intestinal infection in rare cases
- Leptospirosis – a bacterial disease that often leads to kidney failure in animals and can lead to more severe disease in humans if left untreated
The best way to protect yourself and others from these risky diseases is to pick up and properly dispose of your dog’s waste — your pooch and your community will thank you!
2. It Can Leach into the Water Supply
One of the biggest ways that pet waste threatens public health is through water contamination. In fact, dog poop is a leading cause of water pollution in the US!
Heavy rain often clears the ground of anything that doesn’t belong, and that includes your dog’s waste; it can end up in storm drains or other bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and streams, and then carries to the treatment plants that produce our drinking water. This is a major reason why it is against the law in most cities and towns to leave dog poop on the ground.
3. Dog Poop Contaminates Plants and Animals
Dog waste is not a natural part of our local environment, and should not be treated as such. Some may reason that since cow manure is a good fertilizer, then other animal waste must be, too, but that is a dangerous misconception. Waste from herbivores like cows is essentially broken down plant matter, which is good for gardens and soil, but acidic dog poop is toxic to plants and will poison grass.
Bacteria and parasites in your dog’s poop can affect local wildlife, but as dog waste runs into bodies of water, it also affects marine life. During decomposition in the water, it releases high amounts of ammonia that is toxic to fish and plants and that uses up oxygen that they need to survive.
4. It Can Wash into the Water Where Dogs Swim
We know that pet waste can seep into bodies of water that we drink from, and this means that it affects water that we spend time in, too. The next time you enjoy a refreshing dip in the lake or river, know that a portion of the bacteria you are swimming in is caused by dog feces. Some waterways have even been closed because of elevated bacteria levels caused by canine waste running into the water.
Even if it’s not a body of water that you enjoy swimming in, our dogs often love splashing and frolicking in the water at their favorite park or hiking spot. It’s important to keep trails and water clear of bacteria and parasites from dog waste so that it can be enjoyed by everyone!