Pet Waste

There are several health risks associated with pet waste; pet waste contains bacteria and parasites that can cause many infections.   There are several risks associated with dog waste; dog owners iin particular should take note on the importance of picking up after and properly disposing of their pet's waste.

Dog waste is an environmental pollutant. In 1991, it was labeled a non-point source pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), placing it in the same category as herbicides and insecticides; oil, grease and toxic chemicals; and acid drainage from abandoned mines.

It has been estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which are known to cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness, and serious kidney disorders in humans. The EPA even estimates that two or three days’ worth of droppings from a population of about 100 dogs would contribute enough bacteria to temporarily close a bay, and all watershed areas within 20 miles of it, to swimming and shell fishing.

Some of the more common diseases associated with dog feces include:  

  • Whipworms
  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Parvo
  • Corona
  • Giardiasis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Cryptosporidiosis
  • Campylobacteriosis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that pet droppings can contribute to diseases that animals pass to humans, called zoonoses. When infected dog poop is deposited on your lawn, the eggs of certain roundworms and other parasites can linger in the soil for years. Anyone who comes into contact with that soil — be it through gardening, playing sports, walking barefoot, or any other means — runs the risk of coming into contact with those eggs; especially dogs.  Children are also highly susceptible as they often play in the dirt and put things in their mouths or eyes.

The EPA discovered from a survey that many dog owners do not pick up after their dogs because they consider it to be 'too much work'.   Some pet owners assume that the waste eventually 'goes away', or because the dog deposited the feces in an area far from the water, such as in the owner’s yard or in the woods, that it will not enter into our sources of water.  However, rain, melting snow, and other elements carry the feces to the areas over time resulting in health risks for all.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Bureau of Environmental Health are one source of important information about Pet Waste and Bathing Beaches.

Keeping pet waste off our sidewalks, streets, beaches, streams, and catchbasins will greatly reduce the health risks associated with pet waste.