Dog Poo Parasites


Boo Hoo to Poo Parasites

I grew up with family pets and dogs but now I’m a grown-up I’m not a dog owner. Looking after a dog responsibly takes a ton effort I’m not ready to give. I’ve also just moved house. A nice house, with a garden where the previous owner had a dog, a big dog judging from what I stepped in on moving day.

Never mind I told myself, surely all the wet weather will certainly wash the poo away, and the frost, ice and snow will ‘kill off the bugs’. I had visions of my new garden cleansed by the ravages of winter of the waste from the previous four-legged occupant. For my children to run barefooted and carefree across buttercup lawns… and anyway animal poo is supposed to be a good fertiliser, right?

Wrong. According to PMFA there are over 8 million dogs in the UK producing well over 1,000 tons of dog faeces every day. A single dog poo can contain around 1 million microscopic eggs of some really nasty bugs. Eggs from parasites such as Toxocara are resistant to freezing and disinfectants and they can survive for two years or more in sand and soil!  When infected dog poo is deposited on your lawn, in in the park, or on the pavement the eggs of certain roundworms and other parasites will linger there for years. Anyone who comes into contact with that ground—be it through gardening, playing sports, walking barefoot or any other means—runs the risk of coming into contact with those eggs; including your dog, shoes and children. 

Unfortunately for my daisies dog poo doesn’t make good fertilizer it’s toxic to lawn, causing burns and discolouring. But beyond the grass, it’s estimated a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million faecal coliform bacteria. Some of the hard-to-pronounce parasites my lawn could harbour include Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Salmonella, as well as hookworms, ringworms and tapeworms. Infections from these bugs often cause fever, muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and diarrhoea in humans.

Worryingly diseases and infections from parasites in dog poo are a problem because the majority (54%) of dog owners have never wormed their pets and poo is the most common carrier of a ton of nasty parasites like toxocariasis which infects about 1 – 4% of adults but the number of unreported cases makes this number higher.

A Poo Plague?

Around the same time of my moving poo ponderings, attention grabbing, homemade anti dog fouling signs (along with complementary poo bags) began littering my village. Locals are up in arms regularly contacting the parish council to complain about the dog poo plague on pavements and paths. It seems dog fouling is one of the country’s biggest ‘pet hates’ with the public regularly having to dodge poo on pavements and grass verges.

The responsibility for cleaning up dog fouling is ultimately the owner or handler of the dog. However, the council has a duty to keep land clear of litter and refuse, or highways clean under s. 89 of the Environment Protection Act 1990, are required under the Litter (Animal Droppings) Order 1991, to keep public areas clear of dog poo. Because of this it is an offence to let your dog poo in a public place and not clean up after it and you could get slapped with a court order and £1000 fine.

The public is generally encouraged to report antisocial pooing to the Council and if you wanted to take action against a dog owner who has not done the right thing, you need to report what happened as soon as possible. Include the name and address of the person in charge of the dog, a description of the dog, photo if possible (the person and dog not the poo) plus details of the date, time and place of the offence.

Why people don’t pick up poo

If an American survey is anything to go by 40 per cent of offenders do not pick up after their dogs because it was “too much work.” 

Others neglected to do so because they assumed it eventually goes away, or because the dog did it in the owner’s garden or in the woods.  Also in said American survey, 44 per cent of dog walkers who did not pick up after their dogs indicated they would still refuse to pick up—even if confronted by complaints from neighbours, threatened with fines, or provided with more sanitary and convenient options for retrieving and disposing of dog waste. 

So there you have it. If the statistics are to be believed the majority of dog owners neglect their pets through not worming them regularly and there is a section of dog owners who would never pick up poo. Because of this it doesn’t look like my village or my garden will be rid of it’s poo plague any time soon.