Commitment to Care: Scoop That Poop

Scoop That Poop

April 23 through 29 is National Scoop the Poop Week.  Imagine the surprise on our faces when we first stumbled upon the quirky holiday.  It’s a bit of a head-scratcher, isn’t it?  Who would have thought that cleaning up after our furry friends could warrant its own special week on the calendar? Here we are, diving into the realm of National Scoop the Poop Week.  It’s a mash-up of two tasks that don’t exactly scream “fun”: cleaning up after our pets and, well, poop.  Admittedly, it’s not the most glamorous topic for conversation.  Yet, despite the less than ideal nature of the task, ensuring our furry friends leave a clean trail behind should be high on our list of priorities.  After all, it’s just another part of the joyous adventure that comes with pet ownership.   We often think of picking up after our pets as an act of decency, but there are actually much bigger reasons why we should be cleaning up our dogs’ waste.  Let’s talk about some of the reasons…

#1: Dog stool is a pollutant

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies dog stool as a pollutant, in the same category as oil spills, herbicides, insecticides, and salt from irrigation practices, because of the nutrients and pathogens that leach into soil and water, and impact wildlife, plant growth, and human health. The nitrogen and phosphorus in dog waste trigger excessive algae and weed growth, which can choke out aquatic life and make the water unsuitable for swimming or boating.

#2: Intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people and other pets

  • Roundworms — One of the most common parasites found in dog waste, roundworms can remain infectious in contaminated soil and water for years. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 14% of Americans tested positive for roundworms. In people, a roundworm infection can lead to scarring and inflammation in the eye, causing blindness as the worm migrates through the retina. Roundworm infections can also attack organs, such as the lungs or liver, or the central nervous system, in people.
  • Whipworms — As whipworms enter a person’s body through ingestion of water or dirt containing contaminated stool, a variety of issues, such as bloody diarrhea, painful or frequent defecation, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fecal incontinence, can plague a person with a whipworm infection.
  • Hookworms — These parasites can enter a person’s skin, creating an itchy, painful rash, and may travel to the intestines before they die.

It’s important to note that intestinal parasites are extremely common in both cats and dogs. They can infect animals of any age, although puppies and kittens tend to be the biggest victims. While many animals can be asymptomatic carriers of these parasites, others can become very sick. In order to prevent the spread of these parasites, routine fecal testing, a preventative deworming schedule monthly, and good sanitation and environmental control are essential.

#3: Bacteria can be found in your dog’s stool

  • Salmonella — Often linked to raw cookie dough and turtles, Salmonella can also be found in your dog’s waste, causing diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever.
  • E. coli — These bacteria can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting. Some people infected with E. coli can also develop a potentially life-threatening condition known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, which causes a decrease in urination frequency, extreme lethargy, and a pale appearance because of anemia.
  • Giardia — Giardia can cause foul, greasy diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Severe infections in children can lead to slow development, delayed mental and physical growth, and malnutrition.

Many signs seen in people will appear similar to illness signs in your dog. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are the most common indicators your pet is suffering from a fecal-borne bacterial condition.

#4: Parvovirus can easily infect other dogs

Parvovirus is highly contagious, resistant to many disinfectants, and extremely hardy, capable of surviving in the environment for up to two years. If your dog contacts contaminated objects, clothing, surfaces, or other dogs, she may develop vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, and possibly bloody diarrhea, leading to a potentially life-threatening illness. The dogs most likely to contract parvovirus are young puppies still undergoing their first vaccination series, older unvaccinated dogs, dogs under stress, and dogs with a concurrent parasite infection.  Best way to protect your dogs from Parvovirus is to make sure they are fully vaccinated and clean up after your pet.

#5: Dog stool is not a fertilizer

While the nitrogen in cow manure can be a fertilizing agent, too much nitrogen can kill your lawn. Because of their diet, dogs can have up to two and a half times more nitrogen than cows in their waste. If you do not promptly pick up your pet’s stool—it can take a year to naturally decompose—the high nitrogen content can burn your green grass, leaving brown dead spots. Plus, do you really want your children playing in your yard that’s fertilized with your dog’s stool?

Scoop the Poop! 

We all have to make a habit of scooping the poop! Fortunately, there are lots of ways to get the job done, and clever inventors come up with new and stylish solutions all the time. Please remember, many of the illnesses spread through feces are zoonotic, meaning they can be trans

mitted to you from your pet, and are contagious between pets. Proper hygiene is critical to minimize disease risk. Follow the

se tips to avoid fecal contamination:

  • Pick up promptly — Prevent parasites, bacteria, and viruses from infecting people or other pets by picking up your dog’s poop immediately. Many parasites require days to weeks to reach the infective stage, so feces becomes more hazardous to your health the longer it sits.

  • Pick up safely — Use a scoop or waste bag for safe pick-up.
  • Dispose of properly — The best disposal method is putting pet waste in the trash can, which prevents water contamin
  • ation with the bacteria found in feces, since wastewater treatment plants cannot remove these pathogens.
  • Protect your hands — Wear gloves when gardening or working outdoors, in case stray cats or dogs have defecated in your yard.Wash your hands — Always wash your hands thoroughly after scooping your dog’s poop.

In conclusion, let's carry forward the awareness and responsibility it has brought to light. Our furry companions bring boundless joy into our lives, but with that joy comes the duty to ensure their waste doesn't become a hazard to our environment, our health, or the health of others. From understanding the environmental impact of dog waste to safeguarding against the transmission of harmful parasites and bacteria, there's much more to scooping the poop than meets the eye. So, let's continue to embrace this essential task with diligence and care, remembering that in doing

so, we not only preserve the cleanliness of our surroundings but also safeguard the well-being of our beloved pets and ourselves. Let's scoop the poop, not just for a week, but as an ongoing commitment to responsible pet ownership and our environment.