Isn't pet waste "natural"? Wild animals leave their scat in the woods, why not pets?
The bottom line is that there are a lot of pets, and while they are not the major contributor to water pollution, studies show that the combined impact of all pets and wildlife poses a health threat to swimmers, other dogs and beaches, and can cause beach and shellfish bed closures.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health puts out a brochure that explains the risks of pet waste to water pollution on our beaches and sets forth guidelines for pet owners that make a lot of sense. Some highlights:
When animal waste ends up in the
water it decomposes, using up
oxygen. During summer months, low
dissolved oxygen levels harm fish and
other aquatic life.
Beaches and shellfish beds may be
closed, if evidence that diseas-ecausing
bacteria and viruses might be
present is found on routine water
testing. Pet waste can be a cause of
test results that close beaches and
The majority of water pollution comes
from small sources – especially at the
Many towns have “pooper scooper”
ordinances that require pet owners to
pick up and remove fecal matter from
public property. Fines can be
imposed on those caught violating
Pet waste can contain bacteria and
parasites, causing infections such as the
Campylobacteriosis: A bacterial
infection that causes diarrhea in humans.
Giardiasis: A protozoan infection of the
small intestine that can cause diarrhea,
cramping, fatigue, and weight loss.
Salmonellosis: Symptoms include fever,
muscle aches, headache, vomiting, and
Toxocariasis: An animal to human
infection that is caused by roundworms
found in the intestines of dogs. The
parasite can cause vision loss, rash,
fever or cough, and is a particular threat
to children exposed to parasite eggs in
sand and soil.
What You Can Do:
Always carry a plastic bag to pick up
your pet’s waste.
Do not throw pet waste near a storm
drain; use a trash can. Pet waste can
also be flushed down a toilet, but
please don’t flush the bag.
Make sure to dispose of pet waste in
a sealed bag so it doesn’t spill during
Do not flush pet or wildlife waste from
your deck or dock into the water.
Obey local leash laws and seasonal
bans at beaches.
Aussie Pet Mobile Cape Cod cleans Cape Cod by picking up trash and pet waste in addition to bathing and clipping our pets. Join us in keeping our fragile Cape Cod environment clean and green.