There is endless, often heated debate about dog faeces on the beach and in and around our estuaries.

We hear ‘leave it, its biodegradable’, ’just bury it’, ‘throw it into the sea or estuary….’. Then there’s the debate on whether it should be covered in sand and thrown into the nearest dense bush (no plastic) or bagged (usually in a plastic shopping bag) and thrown in the nearest rubbish bin to be taken to landfill.

What the experts say:

49 Kenton Road, PO Box 44, Kenton on Sea, 6191
Telephone: (046) 648-1722
Fax: 086-272 5121

Dog faeces can take up to 9 weeks to fully decompose and can be a significant source of bacteria, parasites and viruses.

Some of these parasites and bacteria may also be zoonotic diseases, meaning that they can affect humans. The most important zoonotic diseases that can be contracted from dog faeces are Salmonella, Campylobacter, Giardia, roundworms and hookworms.
Even if the faeces have decomposed completely some of these zoonotic pathogens can survive in the environment in ideal conditions.

It can also infect other dogs which are not vaccinated with parvovirus if that animal has parvovirus.

Dog faeces is also a source of water pollution and can cause eutrophication* especially if the water is stagnant. (*Eutrophication is the result of introducing excess basic nutrients into the waterways (nitrogen and phosphate in fertiliser runoff, as well as manure or sewage). Unnaturally rapid growth of algae and the subsequent lack of oxygen severely affect aquatic plant and animal life. Depletion of oxygen is caused not only by the growth of a large quantity of algae but also by the decay process after the algae die and are broken down by bacteria).

To prevent the spread of diseases to other animals and humans it is advisable to pick up dog faeces and keep the environment clean.

Dr W Dreyer BVSc

Thank you to Dr Waldo Dreyer for this information