14 Reasons You Should Never Leave Dog Poop In Your Yard

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One of your essential duties as a pet owner is cleaning up after your dog. Approximately 63.4 million households in the U.S. own at least one dog.

Leaving dog poop in your yard can lead to numerous problems, from health risks to environmental damage. Here’s why you should always pick up after your furry friend.

It contains pathogens

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A single gram of dog feces contains 23 million fecal coliform bacteria, which can cause illnesses like cramps, diarrhea, intestinal disease, and severe kidney disorders in humans. Approximately 30% of dog feces contain helminth eggs, including those of roundworms and hookworms.

Among the most common pathogens found in dog feces are Salmonella, E. coli, and giardia. The CDC warns that roundworm larvae found in dog feces can lead to severe health conditions like toxocariasis, which can cause blindness, muscle pain, and even neurological damage. Children playing in the yard are especially vulnerable to these pathogens.

It causes water pollution

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When it rains, the bacteria and nutrients in dog waste can be washed into nearby water bodies. Pet waste is classified as a non-point source pollutant under the Clean Water Act, in the same category as agricultural runoff and oil spills.

It contains pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, which can contaminate water sources and make humans and wildlife sick. Additionally, the high nitrogen content in dog poop can lead to nutrient pollution. This can cause algae blooms, which deplete the oxygen in the water and can result in “dead zones” – areas inhospitable to fish and other aquatic life.

It has Legal Implications

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Many communities have strict ordinances regarding pet waste, and failure to comply can result in penalties. For instance, in New York City, the Department of Sanitation enforces a fine of $250 for not picking up after your dog.

Similar regulations exist in various cities across the United States, ensuring pet owners maintain clean and healthy public and private spaces. It’s crucial to be aware of and comply with local regulations to avoid legal trouble.

It Can Strain Relationships with Neighbors

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Imagine stepping outside to enjoy the fresh air, only to be met with the unpleasant odor of dog waste drifting from next door.

The smell, the visual displeasure, and the potential for stepping on it inadvertently can generate a lot of ill will. Responsible pet ownership includes being considerate of those living nearby.

Property Damage

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Firstly, dog waste is highly acidic due to the high protein content in canine diets. Over time, the acid in dog poop can cause burns and discoloration to your lawn, creating unsightly yellow and brown patches.

Dog urine and feces are rich in nitrogen, which damages the grass and soil structure in excess, leading to “nitrogen burn” and long-term lawn degradation.

Promotes the Growth of Invasive Plants

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This imbalance occurs because dog waste is an unintended fertilizer rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. Dogs add 11 kilograms of nitrogen and 5 kilograms of phosphorus per hectare annually.

Research from the University of Florida Extension indicates that the nutrients in pet waste can lead to the proliferation of invasive plants such as crabgrass and dandelions. This excessive growth often overshadows delicate native plants, reducing biodiversity and impacting the local ecosystem.

It Stinks

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Dog poop contains various compounds, including hydrogen sulfide and ammonia, both of which are notorious for their strong and offensive odors. These compounds are produced as the waste decomposes, releasing toxic gases that can linger in the air.

The journal Environmental Science & Technology reports that pet waste can create ‘hot spots’ of odor pollution, particularly in densely populated areas.

It’s an opportunity for a Health Check

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Dog poop can tell you a lot about their well-being. For example, changes in their stool’s color, consistency, or frequency can be early indicators of health issues such as dietary imbalances, digestive problems, or even more severe conditions like parasites and infections.

The American Kennel Club shares that normal, healthy dog poop should be compact, moist, and easy to pick up. Routine fecal checks and clean-up can significantly decrease the prevalence of zoonotic diseases.

Your Dog May Eat It

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Dogs are curious creatures and may sniff and even consume their waste, a behavior known as coprophagia.

Research from the American Veterinary Medical Association shows that approximately 16% of dogs exhibit this behavior at some point. Ingesting feces can expose your dog to parasites, such as Giardia, E. coli, and Salmonella.

Someone May Tread in It

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Let’s be real, no one wants to step in dog poop. This not only ruins your day but also leaves a lingering negative impression. Nearly 40% of Americans don’t clean up after their pooches.

Dog poop can carry harmful pathogens, such as E. coli and roundworms. These contaminants can be tracked into your home on shoes, spreading germs onto your floors and carpets.

Dog Poop Does Not Break Down

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Unlike herbivore waste, which can decompose relatively quickly, dog poop, being rich in protein and other nutrients from a meat-based diet, decomposes much more slowly.

It can take a year or more for dog waste to decompose fully. During this time, it hardens and turns white, creating an unsightly mess in your yard.

Dog Poop Encourages Flies and Mosquitoes

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Flies are particularly attracted to dog waste because it serves as an excellent food source and breeding site. A study by the Journal of Vector Ecology notes that flies can lay up to 500 eggs over a three-to-four-day period in organic matter like dog poop. Once these eggs hatch, your yard can quickly swarm with adult flies.

Dog waste often holds moisture, ideal for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Flies can carry pathogens that cause diseases like salmonellosis and E. coli infections, while mosquitoes are infamous for spreading illnesses like West Nile Virus and heartworm in pets.

Your Dog May Roll In It

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Many dog owners can attest to the unexpected horror of seeing their beloved pet gleefully frolicking in a pile of excrement. This is believed to be an instinctual trait inherited from their wild ancestors, who used strong scents to mask their smell from predators and prey.

However, this behavior poses more significant problems than an unpleasant bath time. Rolling in dog poop can expose your pet to harmful bacteria and parasites present in the feces. Additionally, they can transfer these pathogens to other areas of your home, increasing the risk of spreading infections.

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