Tips of the Month
Scoop Poop for a Better Environment
Why dog poop is not good for the environment!
We all love our dogs and as responsible dog owners it is important to properly dispose of pet waste whether it lands on the sidewalk, the neighbor’s lawn, in the park, or in your own yard. Pet waste is more than a smelly nuisance. It is a pollutant carried to our waterways by stormwater runoff. It is a source of pathogens and nutrients all of which degrade water quality. Excess nutrients impair water quality, causing harmful and nuisance algal blooms. Poor water quality in streams and rivers means higher water treatment costs and reduced recreational use.
The ecosystem doesn’t gracefully embrace dog waste. If left intact, it can take more than a year to break down and can quickly turn any outdoor area into a site unfit for pets and humans. In addition to the mess and smell, raw dog waste kills grass and other landscaping. Dropped along trails, it kills native plants and encourages noxious weed infestation. Residual waste left at ground zero runs off untreated into storm sewers and waterways. Dogs are third or fourth on the list of contributors to bacteria in contaminated waters, increasing the potential for serious diseases, including cholera and dysentery. The EPA estimates that two days’ worth of dog waste from about 100 dogs can create enough pollution to close a bay and all the watersheds within 20 miles. (smea.uw.edu)
In addition to threats to humans, bacteria that feed on dog waste deplete oxygen, killing native aquatic life. The bacteria also feed algae blooms which block sunlight and suffocate fish. Dog waste toxins themselves can significantly increase fish mortality.
Dog poop in the yard is also dangerous – especially if you have children. The poo left behind leaves the eggs of its parasites in the soil for years to come. This means anytime you walk barefoot on the soil or your kids play in the dirt, it means there is a possibility they will come in contact with parasites, such as hookworms, ringworms, and tapeworms.
Pet waste is also dangerous for the dogs themselves. If the remaining parasites from poos of the past remain in your yard, your dog can continue to pick them up and get sick. If your dog becomes sick with Giardia infections (from poop) and treated by a veterinarian and then returns to the same poop-filled yard, he/she will get it all over again. Owners must make an effort to clean up the mess.
As a dog owner, this is what you can do:
- ALWAYS carry poop bags with you whenever you are out and about with your dog. Take more than you think you will need…you never know.
- PICK IT UP! Every. Single. Time.
- Tie the bag closed and toss it in the garbage. Dog poop CANNOT go in compost or yard waste bins.
- Pick up poops in your yard weekly (more often is better and definitely before a big rain).
From the City's Committee for a Better Environment
Protecting Pets During Summer Heat
With summer upon us and temperatures rising, it is extremely important to consider how our pets handle the heat. Dogs can’t sweat like people do. They can only sweat from the pads of their feet and pant to control their body temperature. This means that as the temperature rises, especially when it gets humid, it is harder for dogs to stay cool and comfortable. If dogs overheat, they are at risk of suffering from heatstroke. Heatstroke can cause brain damage, kidney failure, and potentially death and can occur quickly, in less than fifteen minutes.
What dogs are at risk for heatstroke? Dogs with short snouts, overweight dogs, very young or old dogs, and dogs with underlying conditions or that have suffered from overheating before are at increased risk. But any dog can develop heatstroke under the wrong conditions.
Prevention of a problem before things go wrong is always best. Make sure your pets have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Make sure to check that water bowls are full multiple times a day, especially when it is hot outside. Consider walking or exercising your dog during cooler hours of the day; early morning or later in the evening as the temperature drops. Also, to protect your dog’s paw pads, avoid walking them on hot asphalt, concrete or sandy surfaces. Getting a summer haircut is fine, but don’t shave your dog completely because the coat does provide insulation against overheating and protects against the sun. Light-colored, hairless, and shaved animals are at risk for sunburns. Ask your veterinarian about animal-specific sunscreens.
Don’t leave your pets in cars, even for short periods of time. Cars heat up quickly and cracking a window is not enough. The temperature can rise almost twenty degrees Fahrenheit in the first ten minutes. Don’t leave your pets inside your car. Leave them at home or take them out of the car with you.
How do you know if your dog is overheating, becoming dehydrated, or suffering from heatstroke? Here are some signs to look for.
Your dog may become dehydrated with excessive panting. Signs to look out for include sunken eyes, dry looking and tacky gums, and overall weakness.
Signs to look for to detect heatstroke in your dog include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, tiredness, disorientation, dark red/bluish purple gums, a glazed over look to the eyes, thick saliva or excessive drooling, vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, or collapse.
What should you do if you suspect your dog might be overheating or suffering from heatstroke? If you think your dog is overheated, move it to a shaded or cooler area, offer cool water to drink in small amounts at a time, and apply cool damp towels. If you are worried about or are seeing signs of heatstroke, wet the dog with cool water (not ice water) and place it by a fan or in air conditioning. Heatstroke is serious and can be dangerous. Contact your veterinarian and bring your dog in to get evaluated if you suspect it suffered from heatstroke, even if you started to cool it down. Heatstroke is an emergency and you want to make sure that your pet is evaluated quickly.
Remember that your pets can have a harder time keeping cool this summer. Take steps to prevent overheating, watch for any signs that your pet is overheated, and take action to cool them down and seek medical help when needed. Enjoy your summer and stay safe.
Learn more from the Center for Disease Control.
From the City's Animal Welfare Committee