Dog fouling

Health hazard

The majority of dog owners and handlers are responsible and pick up after their dog's done its business, but it's the careless few that fail to pick it up that give dogs and their owners a bad reputation.

​​​Not only is dog mess unpleasant, but it is also a human health hazard.

The biggest threat to public health is toxocariasis – an infection caused by worms commonly found in dogs intestines. This can cause serious illness and even blindness.

Toxocara worms

Dog faeces can contain the eggs of the Toxocara worm -a type of roundworm.

Humans can become infected by accidentally ingesting worm eggs or by eating food that is contaminated with soil containing the eggs. One of the major forms of toxocariasis (the condition the Toxocara worm can cause) is damage to the eye - reducing vision and in some cases causing blindness.

Children are at higher risk of contracting toxocariasis as they are more likely to come into contact with soil or sand that contains the faeces. Cases of toxocariasis have also been found in sportspeople where dog faeces have been left on recreational play areas and sports pitches.

Toxocara worm eggs need time to develop in areas such as soil for several weeks before they are able to infect humans, which is why it's vital you clean up your dog's mess immediately. If the mess is not picked up, any worm eggs present can develop and infect anyone who comes into contact with them in the future.

Cases of toxocariasis can be reduced if owners are responsible and pick up their dog's mess immediately, and by ensuring their dog is wormed regularly.