The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned dog owners about the health dangers posed by dog faeces, which are swarming with coliform bacteria. Certain pathogens are also communicable from dogs to humans. These transmittable diseases are known as zoonoses. Owners should clean up after their dogs and make sure their dogs' vaccinations are up to date. The EPA also warns against walking your dog by a water source and using faeces to fertilise your lawn.
This deadly and highly infectious canine virus enters the body through the dog's mouth and latches on to the digestive tract, killing cells that help absorb nutrients. Excessive diarrhoea or vomiting leads to severe fluid loss, which can cause death. Parvovirus can also exist on blades of grass; sunlight is the most effective way of disinfecting contaminated grass. Symptoms also include lethargy and fever. Younger dogs are susceptible to heart failure as the virus also attacks the immune system.
There are several worms found in dog faeces that can spread to humans, among them roundworms and hookworms. The latter eats away at the intestinal wall, in some cases causing anaemia or inflammation. Roundworms, or ascarids, attack the lungs and digestive system. Whipworms burrow into the intestinal wall and are difficult to diagnose and treat. Symptoms include vomiting, weight loss and diarrhoea, and can give rise to anaemia. When found in large concentrations, these worms can have damaging effects and, in rare cases, can cause death.
This is often caused by dogs eating the faeces of another dog infected by these one-celled parasites. Giardia, which often causes diarrhoea, usually is difficult to detect. However, once it has been diagnosed then the disease can be treated by one of two anti-parasitic drugs, Fenbendazole and Metronidazole.
The EPA suggests disposing of dog waste by flushing it down the toilet, burying it or throwing it in the garbage, as allowed by law. Dog droppings on a lawn or backyard should be cleaned up at least once a week and especially before rainfall, as the runoff will carry away the bacteria and possibly contaminate a nearby water source. Furthermore, the EPA recommends that dog faeces not be used to fertilise your lawn. In fact, it can damage your lawn, causing discolouration.