Stepping, or falling, in dog poo is extremely unpleasant.
Poop-scooping is not only the socially correct thing to do, it is important for dog, human, and livestock health.
Several types of dog worms are transmitted via poo – some as adults, which may be visible, and others as eggs, which are microscopic and thus invisible to the naked eye.
Toxocara is the roundworm found in puppies and kittens, passed on from their mothers. The adults can be 15cm long. If children ingest (eat) Toxocara eggs, or touch infected poo and then rub their eyes, they can become infected. Other than 63% of parks and public sandpits in Lisbon testing positive for Toxocara eggs, specific human disease data in Portugal is lacking. However, as an example, 15 children per year in the UK are blinded by Toxocara infection.
A study in Ponte de Lima, North Portugal, in 2014, sampled 592 dogs. 55 had Toxocara – almost 10%, 264 (45%) had hookworm, and 216 (36%) had whipworm, both of which can also infect people.
Tapeworms can infect sheep as well as people, making them emaciated and very ill.
As well as all these worms, an amoeba-like parasite called Neospora can be carried by dogs but cause cattle to abort.
So – what to do?
- Make sure your dog is appropriately wormed – individual needs vary, ask the vet
- Scoop that poop or at least flick it into the bushes if on a grass verge
- Do not leave it lying in a farmer’s field