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ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION - PET FECES


This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

In addition to the benefits of keeping pets, there are some disadvantages. One of these is the need to dispose of feces deposited in the environment

Pet owners have an obligation to minimise the nuisance that their pet may cause to neighbours and other members of society. However many owners are extremely inconsiderate and allow their dogs to roam freely, or to defecate inappropriately in public or private places. One of the most controversial issues over the past 20 years has been the need to introduce legislation to control defecation by dogs in public places. 

Fecal contamination of the environment creates two main problems :

  • Unpleasant consequences if someone steps in the mess :
    • smell
    • need to clean shoes/clothes
  • A real health risk from direct and indirect contact with feces - notably the risk of transmission of the parasite Toxocara canis to humans. This disease (a zoonosis) can cause blindness, and is particularly likely to be contracted by children. Children can pick up the disease from contact with the environment in which dogs have defecated. They do not have to come into contact with the dog itself.

Some other infections that can be transmitted from feces and/or urine from pets  include :

  • Rodents, reptiles, chelonians and others - salmonellosis
  • Birds - chlamydia (psittacosis/"parrot fever")
  • Rodents - leptospirosis

Feces (and other excreta including urine and urine-stained bedding ) from all types of pets should be handled hygienically using protective gloves, washable plastic, or disposable scoops etc. Hands should be washed thoroughly as soon as possible after handling waste products, or contaminated materials - especially before eating.

Waste must be disposed of in accordance with national and local authority regulations. In the UK in most urban areas and on beaches strict regulations apply  :

  • Dogs are not allowed to foul pavements and footpaths. Often there are strict penalties (fines) for breach of the rules.
  • The public are requested to pick up and put fecal material in special disposal bins which are situated in public areas where the exercising of dogs is allowed. 
  • Small amounts of waste from household pets can be disposed of in household rubbish.
  • Waste material from commercial kennels is either incinerated on the premises or disposed of through commercial outlets.
  • Waste material from veterinary premises is classified as Clinical waste and is disposed through commercial outlets
  • Dogs are only allowed access to certain public areas eg parks and beaches

There are no specific controls for cats or other pets, although their are general laws protecting the public from "nuisance" caused by pets.

Class Activities

  • Fecal Pollution in the Environment

 

 

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