Dog fouling is a dirty subject!
Cleaning up after your pet dog is extremely important, not only is it unpleasant to look at, smell, tread in or walk into your home, but it can cause illness and disease. Dogs’ faeces not only contain a myriad of disease causing bacteria, but there is also the potential that it will contain Toxocara (also known as Dog Roundworm) eggs.
Toxocara (Toxocara canis) is distributed worldwide, and is a helminth (worm-like) parasite that can infect numerous different species, including humans! Even healthy normal looking dogs can be infected with Toxocara, but Toxocara eggs are more likely to be present in the faeces of dogs that are not regularly wormed or pregnant bitches or puppies.
You can catch Toxocariasis (the disease caused by migrating Toxocara larvae) if you swallow Toxocara eggs. Children and toddlers are most at risk from infection as they often come into contact with soil or sand whilst playing, however adults can also catch Toxocariasis, from activities such as gardening for example. Direct contact with dogs that have Toxocara worms cannot lead to infection, as Toxocara eggs need to mature in soil or sand for several weeks before they are able to infect humans.
When Toxocara eggs are swallowed they hatch in the intestines. The juvenile larvae burrow through the intestine wall of the host into the bloodstream – I hope you aren’t eating your dinner! Once in the bloodstream they can be carried to any part of the body.
Toxocariasis in humans, in most cases, causes no symptoms at all, especially in adults, but in the minority of patients can cause fever, coughing or wheezing, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and rashes. It can also affect the eyes, causing decreased vision, swelling and even resulting in a cross eyed appearance in a minority of cases! Eventually the worms die. At the point where they die, small abscesses or granulomas (small masses of inflamed tissue) may develop. In some cases, fibrous tissue may build up around the worm, sealing it in.
Therefore it is very important for dog owners to ensure that their dogs are regularly wormed and that they clean up after their dogs’ as soon as possible, using poop scoops or plastic bags and dispose of the dog faeces in dog fouling bins or in the non-recyclable bin at home.
Remember, it is also an offence not to clean up after your dog under Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and any body found not to clean up after a dog that they are responsible for can receive a fine of up to £1,000, even if they are not the owner of the dog!
So in summary - Please clean up after your dog!
It’s a part of being a responsible dog owner these days, and it’ll definitely go down well with your neighbours – especially if they don’t have dogs of their own. Not to mention making where you walk your dog a more enjoyable environment for everybody!
Note: It should be noted that Toxocara eggs although in some cases from different species can affect many species of animals, for example are also present in pet cats (known as Toxocara cati), so efficient worming is an important aspect of many pet animals care.