Pet Waste

Dog in Grass

While typically considered a dirty job, proper pet waste disposal is one that responsible pet owners have to do. Aside from being a common courtesy for the community in which one lives, safe pet waste disposal also provides a number of health benefits for both humans and animals alike. It can protect against exposure to bacterial infections and parasites while also supporting immune systems. The appropriate disposal of waste can even contribute to a healthier and more robust environment. 

Health Risks Posed by Pet Waste

Coming into contact with pet waste can pose several different health risks, including potential bacterial infections and parasitic infestation. An example of a bacterial infection that can present in humans as a result of exposure to pet waste is campylobacteriosis. Transmittable parasites and intestinal worms found in pet excrement include cryptosporidium, toxocariasis, and toxoplasmosis. While the symptoms of each type of bacterial infection and parasite vary, some of them have led to health issues serious enough to result in death. This is one of the many reasons why the proper disposal of pet waste can be considered an important public health issue.

The cleaning of areas exposed to pet excrement is a necessary step to reduce the risk of accidental infection in vulnerable populations. Adventurous children who play outdoors are susceptible to the microscopic dangers found in pet waste. Adults who garden may unknowingly handle pet waste, as animals are naturally attracted to grass and foliage as places to relieve themselves. Infectious pet waste can even pose a threat to other animals. Feces examined or eaten by curious animals can harbor diseases and parasites that can take up residence in a pet’s body and cause a multitude of problems.

Pet Waste Can Affect Water Quality

Despite ensuring that your pets don’t defecate directly into water sources, their waste can still affect community and natural bodies of water. Some pet owners may erroneously assume that depositing excrement into a storm sewer is a viable disposal method. Storm sewers, however, empty into lakes and streams. Along with polluting the water with bacteria and parasites, pet waste that finds its way to natural bodies of water promotes the flowering of unwanted algae and weeds. Chemical reactions that take place in the water after coming into contact with pet waste can also negatively affect wildlife and contribute to the reduction of fish populations.

What can you do?
  • Carry a pooper scooper or plastic bags, seal the waste in a plastic bag and put it in the garbage.
  • Flush it down a toilet, as long as it’s not mixed with litter or other materials. This is the best method because your septic system or community sewage plant will treat the waste.
  • Never dump pet waste or plastic bags containing waste into a storm drain.

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