, , , , , , , , , , ,

Only days after seeing homemade signs posted at our local dog park warning other dog owners that their pup was infected with harmful parasites after visiting the park, I was sad to find out that one of my clients was diagnosed with Giardiasis today after eating the droppings of an infected dog at his regular daycare facility.

Giardiasis, commonly referred to as Giardia, is a parasite that lives in the gastrointestinal tract.  Dogs become infected after consuming contaminated water or food, licking contaminated fur and, most commonly, after coming into contact with contaminated feces. It can cause loss of appetite, malnutrition, diarrhea, weight loss, tiredness, weakness, bloody or pale-colored, greasy, strong smelling stools and even death.  Giardia also pose a risk to human health, especially immunocompromised people such as the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and people suffering from cancer, AIDS or other serious disease.

So herein I state my plea with local dog owners.  Please Scoop the Poop!  All dog owners know what it’s like to visit their favorite dog park or hiking trail hoping for clean grasses to play in, only to find it covered in the dog poop of their fellow patrons.  In fact, during a trip to East Branch Dog Park this summer I had the unique experience of having to DEFEND my decision to pick up my dogs’ waste.  The woman told me innocently that she never picks up after her dogs unless they poop on the walking path, and then only out of courtesy for other hikers.

While I appreciate that she’s thinking of her fellow humans, she failed to see the real harm in leaving her dogs’ waste on (and off) the beaten trails.  I am the first to attest to how maddening it is to step on a big pile of poop on the trail but for anyone who loves their dog, that should be the least of their concern.  The following diseases are also contracted through contact with another dog’s feces:

Parvovirus – Parvo is a killer for most dogs and is transmitted from dog to dog through physical contact and contact with feces. This virus is very hardy and can live in the environment and remain contagious for up to 12 months. It is typically more severe in puppies. The symptoms include extreme lethargy, very pale gums, vomiting, fever and diarrhea.

Roundworm – are the most common type of parasite found in pets. They are almost always found in puppies that have yet to be vaccinated and often have the unpleasant habit of eating other dogs’ poop. However, even adult dogs and cats can get roundworm and should be de-wormed regularly. If your pet’s poop looks like spaghetti, he more than likely has roundworm. Other symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea. Roundworm can also infect humans.

Hookworm – hookworms are blood suckers and  are easily transmitted through the pads of a dog’s feet and the skin on his belly by being picked up from infected soil.

Coccidia – are one-celled parasites that multiply in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats and are spread through fecal matter. The primary sign of an animal suffering with coccidiosis is diarrhea which can be mild to severe depending on the level of infection. Blood and mucus may be present, especially in advanced cases. Severely affected animals may also vomit, lose their appetite, become dehydrated, and in some instances, die from the disease.

Need some more compelling reasons??

It is estimated that a single gram of dog waste can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria;

It pollutes our groundwater and is potentially harmful to our ecosystem;

It attracts disease-carrying pests and flies.  Rats feed on dog feces.  Enough said!  And, of course, flies are not only a nuisance but can transmit disease also;

It could endanger the health of your family, particularly young children.

And so I ask my fellow dog lovers, please help us keep our dogs and families safe, happy, and above all, HEALTHY.  Clean up your pup’s poop – always and everywhere.