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The Health Risks and Environmental Dangers of Dog Waste


Why You Should Always Scoop Your Dog’s Poop

In light of the dangers of dog waste, it’s imperative for responsible dog owners to grasp the significance of cleaning up after their furry companions, even during the winter season. Beyond being a mere inconvenience, neglecting to dispose of dog waste properly can pose significant risks to the environment and public health. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the numerous hazards linked to dog waste and emphasize the critical importance of consistently tidying up after your pet.

Environmental Dangers of Dog Waste

The environmental impact of dog waste is significant, especially considering the growing population of dogs in the United States. With 83 to 88 million dogs now living in the country, it is estimated that they collectively produce over 10 million tons of waste per year. When not properly disposed of, this waste can have severe consequences for the environment.

Dog waste is considered an environmental pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on par with pesticides, herbicides, and toxic chemicals. One of the primary concerns is water contamination. When dog feces are left on the ground, rainwater and melting snow can carry the waste into storm drains, rivers, lakes, and other water sources.  This can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria such as E. coli and fecal coliform, which can cause serious illnesses in humans and wildlife.  In fact, the EPA estimates that just two to three days’ worth of waste from 100 dogs can temporarily close a bay and all watershed areas within 20 miles to swimming and shell fishing.  Additionally, the high nutrient content in dog waste can promote the growth of algae blooms, which can deplete oxygen levels in water bodies and harm aquatic life.

Public Health Hazards Associated With Dog Waste

Dog waste can harbor a variety of bacteria, parasites, and diseases that can be transmitted to humans, especially children. Roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are common gastrointestinal parasites found in dog feces that can cause serious health issues in humans. Other bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter, can also be present in dog waste and lead to severe illness, particularly in young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.

Roundworms, for example, can cause a condition called toxocariasis in humans. When infected dog feces are left on the ground, the eggs of the roundworm can persist in the soil for years. If accidentally ingested, these eggs can hatch in the human intestine and the larvae can migrate to various tissues in the body, potentially causing damage to the liver, lungs, eyes, or brain. Children are particularly susceptible to this infection due to their play habits and tendency to put things in their mouths. Antibody testing shows approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population at large to have been infected by a roundworm species

Hookworms, another common parasite found in dog waste, can cause cutaneous larva migrans, also known as “creeping eruption.” This occurs when hookworm larvae penetrate the skin, causing an itchy, red, raised tract that can be painful and lead to secondary bacterial infections.

In addition to parasitic infections, dog waste can also contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. These bacteria can cause severe gastrointestinal illness, with symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. Children, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from these infections.

Furthermore, dog waste can also harbor the bacteria Campylobacter, which is a common cause of diarrheal illness in humans. Campylobacter infection can lead to severe complications, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder that causes muscle weakness and paralysis.

The risk of disease transmission from dog waste is not limited to direct contact. Contaminated soil or water can also spread these pathogens, putting individuals at risk even if they do not come into direct contact with dog feces. For example, if dog waste is left near a vegetable garden, the bacteria and parasites can contaminate the soil and potentially the produce, leading to foodborne illnesses.

Regularly deworming dogs and maintaining their overall health through veterinary check-ups can also help reduce the risk of parasitic infections and the spread of disease through dog waste.

Attracting Pests

Unattended dog waste can serve as a food source for rats and other rodents, attracting them to residential areas. These pests not only decrease property values but also carry additional health risks, such as leptospirosis, typhus, and salmonellosis, which can be easily passed to humans.


The best way to combat the dangers of dog waste is to always clean up after your pet. Carry eco-friendly biodegradable dog poop bags with you on walks and dispose of them properly in designated receptacles. If your community lacks pet waste stations, consider advocating for their installation. These are installed, serviced and maintained with individual biodegradable dog poop bag dispensers for use by dog owners.  For those who find it challenging to keep up with waste removal in private residences, professional pet waste management services like Dog Poo Crew can help maintain a clean and healthy environment.

As our area grows more populated and dog ownership rates increase, it’s essential to recognize the significant impact dog waste can have on our environment and public health. By taking responsibility and cleaning up after our pets, we can help protect our communities, water sources, and the well-being of both humans and animals. Let’s work together to create a cleaner, safer world for everyone.

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