I like to think that most dog owners are responsible ones, and that it’s only very few who don’t clean up after their dogs. But there are many reasons why we should encourage them to pick up too.
There are the obvious reasons. First it is a hazard to human health, dog feces may contain parvovirus, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, threadworms, and many more that sound as nasty as one another. They are particularly dangerous for kids (who don’t always know to not touch certain things), and women (especially the pregnant kind). These parasites can cause infection in all pets (not only our dogs) and humans and be passed directly through the skin or by accidental ingestion. The symptoms can be cramps, diarrhea, intestinal illness, serious kidney disorders, but can also cause blindness and many other unpleasant (slight understatement) conditions.
Us dog owners and walkers have all been there, we go on long walks with our four legged friends to enjoy some of our beautiful costal and countryside areas, only to find that someone else has left us a friendly little present.
But believe it or not, dog mess is also damaging to local wildlife and the environment. I asked my friend Henry Glynn, Government Ecologist/Environmental Warden why and how. He says: “The high levels of nitrogen in dog mess can physically damage and kill plants causing “nitrogen burn” and it also causes nutrient enrichment of the surrounding soil which encourages the growth of rank grasses and other plants. In fragile ecosystems like sand dunes and heathland the growth of such plants displaces specialist species, such as native orchids, which may be unique to that particular area.”
But bagging it up alone is not enough people! Henry adds: “Leaving empty and used dog mess bags in these areas also challenges wildlife as they are very slow to degrade. As they do degrade, plastics can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil. This initially affects species in the area but can then impact on ground water, not only polluting potential drinking water supplies but also causing harm to aquatic wildlife. Plastic bags also present a real danger for animals, particularly small or young birds and mammals, becoming entangled or choking, especially when plastic bags are mistakenly used as a nesting material.”
So I guess the thing to remember is, next time your dog does a poo off the beaten track and its out of sight, dog mess isn’t a fertiliser, instead it causes a lot of damage to wild areas and the plants and animals which live in them.
So what can we do:
· Make sure you never run out of poo bags, have some in your coat’s pockets, car, bags, etc.
· Use biodegradable bags,
· Have a look into using a Pet & Dog Poo Wormery
· Bag it up, and make sure not to leave it behind
· Either use poo bins (most parks have them), or carry it home to dispose of it there
· Flush in the loo (if using appropriate flushable poo bags)
· Check if you are allowed to dispose of it in the general waste bins with your council, and if so go ahead.
Enjoy your walks and spread the word, not the poo.