No one likes the dirty work of cleaning up after pets, but it is your responsibility as a pet owner. Proper pet waste disposal is important for your health, the health of your furry friend, and the environment. But how do you properly dispose of pet waste?
Are there better options than a plastic bag? Keep reading to learn more about the do’s, don’ts and oh please do not’s of pet waste disposal.
Proper Pet Waste Disposal and Why It Is Important
Your pet’s waste is not only an unsightly, smelly, mess in your yard (or wherever they chose to go), but it could carry diseases harmful to human and animal health. Improper disposal can harm the environment and even our water systems. Here are some problems pet waste poses.
Diseases and Parasites
Dogs may carry diseases and parasites that can be spread to humans and other animals in their poop and urine. Some of these spread by dogs are:
Campylobacteriosis: A bacterial infection spread between dogs and humans. The bacteria Campylobacter causes diarrhea and other digestive issues in dogs. In humans, this can cause (potentially bloody) diarrhea, abdominal cramping and pain, fever, and possible vomiting.
E. coli: Dogs can get an Escherichia coli bacterial infection the same way humans do, by drinking or eating tainted food and water. E. coli causes nausea, vomiting, (sometimes bloody) diarrhea, and a mild fever in dogs and humans. An untreated E. coli infection can kill dogs and humans.
Brucellosis: A bacterial infection that dogs can pass onto humans. Dogs with Brucellosis may have no symptoms or get infections in reproductive organs, causing infertility. In humans, Brucellosis could become chronic and cause infertility and miscarriages.
Toxoplasmosis: A parasitic infection you could come in contact with via your animal droppings. Infected dogs rarely show symptoms.
Most humans are asymptomatic but people with poor immune systems or those who are pregnant may experience flu-like symptoms. In rare cases, toxoplasmosis causes brain and/or CNS infections.
Roundworm: A type of parasite shed in dog’s feces. Puppies infected by roundworm are delayed in growth, have distended bellies and adult dogs may have digestive issues. Roundworm causes serious damage to eyes and visceral organs in humans.
The parasite can cause blindness and inflammation of the eye, damage to the lungs, liver, and CNS. A severe untreated roundworm infection in humans and dogs can be fatal but is less likely in humans and adult dogs.
Public Health Concerns
Not only do bacterial and parasitic infections cause a potential risk to you and those who come in close contact with your dogs, but it could also be a public health concern.
Have you ever wondered why so many communities and businesses have “No Dogs Allowed,” or “IT’S THE LAW TO CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG” signs all over their little green patches of grass?
Well, many cities and municipalities have made laws and ordinances because pet waste is a major public health issue. Disobeying these signs and walking away from your dog’s leavings is not only not cool, but you could also face fines from $250 up to $1000, depending on your location.
Researchers with LA County Veterinary Public Health conducted a study on dogs in 10 parks. They tested the pets for the parasitic infection Giardiasis, which is spread to humans through their poop.
They found that around 22% of dogs carried the parasite responsible for Giardiasis. While not all strains of this infection are harmful to human health, the parasite can find its way into our water supply if pet waste is not picked up and properly disposed of.
How Pet Waste Impacts Water Quality
When you leave your dog’s poop behind in the grass because you think “The rain will wash it away” (spoiler alert: it won’t) it can impact water quality. Rain may wash away some of the waste. From there, it goes into storm drains that lead to rivers, lakes, and other water sources.
As already discussed, pet waste can carry harmful diseases but also hurt water quality because it encourages algae and weed growth. This turns the water murky and difficult to navigate boats through.
Pet waste also raises ammonia levels and lowers oxygen levels in the water. During the warmer months, pet waste runoff can contribute to harmful algae blooms (HABs). HABs are toxic to aquatic life and small animals.
Best Ways To Dispose of Pet Waste Properly
Now that you know all the ways pet waste is dangerous to you, other animals, and the environment, hopefully, you are interested in learning how to properly dispose of your dog’s droppings. Here are some safe methods:
Put it in a bag: This is often the most convenient solution, as many parks have dog waste management stations with bags and trash cans. Picking up your dog’s poop with a bag (or two for good measure) is a much better option than leaving it behind.
Flush it down the toilet: The EPA actually advises dog owners to flush dog waste down the toilet. It is safe for your home’s septic system so long as you do not flush it in a plastic bag. This way, it does not end up in a landfill or polluting local water sources.
Have someone else do your dirty work: You can hire pet waste management services to clean up after your dog. DoodyCalls Pooper Scooper service technicians will clean your yard and dispose of your pet’s waste safely. Keep your hands clean and your conscious clear.
Do The Right Thing
Improper pet waste disposal is a public health concern; it has the potential to harm you, other animals, and the people around you. Picking up after your dog, whether you put it in a bag, flush it, or have someone else do it for you, is an essential part of dog ownership. For more interesting, in-depth articles like this one, check out the other posts on our blog.