Abandoned dog poop is gross. It can wash into the soil and spread parasites.

Dog poop isn’t just gross—it’s also potentially contagious. That’s why signs reminding pet owners to “restrain your dog” and pick up their poop have been supplemented in some places by post-warnings that pet waste can spread disease.

As the primary care veterinarian for small animals, I deal with dog and cat litter diseases on a daily basis. Feces represent potential zoonotic hazards, meaning they can transmit disease from animals to humans.

The fact that waste is left to wash into the soil, whether in a neighborhood, trail or dog park, Can spread fatally. Parasites Not only between dogs and cats To wild animals And People of all ages. A 2020 study found Intestinal parasites in 85 percent of off-leash dog parks across the US.

Although human diseases caused by soil-transmitted parasites are considered uncommon in the United States, they affect more people. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide. Signs reminding you to pick up after your pet aren’t just trying to keep public spaces clean. They are urging you to help protect the health of your community.

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Common dog waste includes parasites. Hookworms, roundworms, Coccidia And whipworms. Hookworms and roundworms can develop in a variety of species, including humans.

Their microscopic larvae can enter the human body through small scratches in the skin after contact with contaminated soil or through accidental oral ingestion. Remember that the next time you’re out and about, wipe the sweat off your face with a dirty hand and then lick your lips or drink – it’s that easy. After a hose or rainwater washes contaminated feces into the soil, these parasites can lay eggs Live and inspire for months to years. to come

Once in the human body, both hookworm and roundworm larvae can mature and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs. From there, the cough helps to access them. Digestive tract, where they attach to the intestinal wall and release nutrients. People with healthy immune systems may have no clinical symptoms of infection, but plenty of parasites May cause anemia and malnutrition. They can too. Causes intestinal obstruction. which may require surgical intervention, especially in young children.

Effects on other animals

Dogs and cats can also develop. The same symptoms as people with parasitic infections. In addition to the dangers of hookworm and roundworm, pets are also susceptible to whipworm, giardia and coccidia.

In addition to parasites, absentee poop can also be infected with canine or feline viruses. such as parvovirus, Distemper virus and canine coronaviruswhich can cause fatal disease in other dogs and cats (the dog strain does not affect humans), especially in unvaccinated adult animals and puppies and kittens.

This virus Attacks rapidly dividing cells, especially those in the intestinal lining and bone marrow, making them unable to properly absorb nutrients and produce the red and white blood cells that they need. and help defend against other viruses. Vaccination can protect pets.

Many native wildlife species are in the canid and felid family groups. They, too, are susceptible to many parasites and viruses, like domesticated dogs and cats – while being less likely to benefit from vaccination. There are coyotes, wolves, foxes, raccoons, minks and bobcats. At risk of contracting parvovirusCorona virus And worried.

Responsible pet waste management

So, pick up your dog or cat wherever it relieves itself—at the park, in the woods, on the sidewalk, or even in your yard—but always avoid skin-to-skin contact. . It is safest to use a shovel to scoop the poop directly into the plastic bag, or put a bag over your hand to catch the poop and then pull the plastic bag over it.

Bind the bag and be sure to place it in the trash—not on top—to avoid inadvertent contamination of a neighbor or sanitation worker. Immediately Wash your handsEspecially before touching your face or eating. Hand sanitizers can take care of many viruses on your skin, but they The parasite will not kill the eggs..

There are other possible sources of exposure to poop — and parasites. Sandbox, beach and park sand Found under and around playgrounds. Sand is comfortable to lounge on, fun to build castles in and softens the impact if you fall off a play structure. But cats and other small mammals like to use it as a litter box. Covering sandboxes when not in use and closely monitoring your environment at the beach and playground are important steps towards reducing risks.

by the Keep your pet on regular parasite prevention With protocols, annual testing for intestinal parasites, and routine removal of fecal material from the environment, you can also help reduce the chances of these diseases in all mammals in your environment—humans, pets, and wildlife. .

Important points to remember to avoid parasites and minimize the impact on your ecosystem:

  • Pick it up and safely dispose of waste regardless of where your pet poops. After that, sanitize your hands.
  • Wash your hands before eating or touching your face when gardening or working in the yard.
  • Avoid rinsing in soil. Using a rain or garden hose only removes visible dirt, not microscopic problems.
  • Make sure sandboxes are covered when not in use.
  • Take care of your pets Monthly intestinal parasite dewormer Schedule
  • Have your doctor check for intestinal parasites every year.

The author is a clinical assistant professor of small animal clinical sciences at the University of Florida.

This article was prepared in collaboration with theconversation.com.

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