When it comes to dog ownership, dog feces seem like a small problem since you just pick them up during your walks.
However, you may also come into contact with feces inside the home during potty training and when your dog becomes ill or very old.
This is something I encountered with my own dog when she was a puppy and was hit by a serious case of diarrhea.
After a thorough clean up you are left to wonder how dangerous dog poop actually is.
And what about the small particles that they drag in from outdoors?
Unlike us, dogs cannot wipe their butts and their paws might pick up some additional fecal matter during walks.
Here is what you need to look out for and how you can prevent the spreading of potentially dangerous illnesses inside your home.
Is Dog Poop Dangerous Inside the House?
Dog poop is potentially dangerous when left inside the home as it may serve as a breeding ground for pathogenic microorganisms and parasites that can cause illness in both people and animals.
One of the biggest dangers of dog poop inside the home is bacteria that can easily be transmitted between animals and humans.
One gram of dog poop contains about 23 million coliform bacteria which is near twice the amount that can be found in human waste.
E. coli, for example, live in the intestines of healthy people and animals and most types are harmless or cause very mild symptoms.
However, there are a few strands that can lead to nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, and in rare cases even death.
Another potential disease that can be transmitted through dog poop is called Campylobacteriosis.
It is caused by Campylobacter which is the number one cause of bacterial diarrheal illness in the United States and results in similar symptoms to E. coli.
Salmonellosis is the most common bacterial infection transmitted from animals to humans.
People that are infected with salmonella may experience stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever.
Another nasty danger of dog poop inside the home is parasites.
I have talked thoroughly about worms and how they are transmitted to people in my article Can I Get Worms From My Dog Sleeping in My Bed.
Parasites are mainly transmitted by coming into contact with contaminated fecal matter.
These include Giardia, Toxocara, whipworms, roundworms, and hookworms.
Young children are at the highest risk of getting infected with parasites since they spend the most time in potentially contaminated soil.
In addition to these health risks, dog poop inside the house can also create unpleasant odors and difficult-to-remove stains.
Can Dog Poop Kill You?
Dog poop in itself cannot kill you but the containing bacteria, parasites, and viruses may result in diseases that could become life-threatening such as infections with E. coli or salmonella.
Very young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals are at the highest risk of getting seriously ill from dog poop diseases.
In healthy people, infections from Campylobacter or salmonella are generally mild, and most affected people get well rather quickly.
In severe cases, these illnesses can lead to serious complications such as kidney failure or liver damage.
Can Breathing Dog Feces Make You Sick?
Merely breathing dog feces is not likely to make you sick since the main concern is the exposure to ammonia and feces emit minimal amounts of ammonia.
If you pick up dog poop in your home, yard, or outside you don’t have to be worried about the short and small exposure to ammonia.
In general, exposure to high concentrations of ammonia is dangerous and can cause a variety of symptoms such as coughing, throat irritation, and a burning sensation in the eyes.
If you are sensitive to some odors or your dog has produced a particularly nasty poop then you might start gagging but this should stop immediately after cleaning up.
Besides ammonia and a nasty smell, airborne bacteria can be emitted from dog feces.
The CU-Boulder study showed that of the four Midwestern cities in the experiment, two cities had significant quantities of fecal bacteria in the atmosphere — with dog feces being the most likely source.
“We found unexpectedly high bacterial diversity in all of our samples, but to our surprise the airborne bacterial communities of Detroit and Cleveland most closely resembled those communities found in dog poop,” said lead author Robert Bowers.Bacteria from dog feces present in outdoor air in urban areas
It’s a well-known fact that bacteria exist in the atmosphere and can greatly influence human health, triggering allergies and asthma.
However, these researchers were surprised to find a great bacteria diversity in urban areas during winter.
Sticking your nose close to dog poop is certainly not beneficial and should be avoided.
How to Clean Up Dog Poop in the House
Cleaning up dog poop in the house is an unpleasant task, but it’s important to do it properly to prevent the spread of germs and odors.
Quick action is needed so the poop doesn’t decompose and leave stains.
Here are the six steps you should follow to clean up dog poop in your house:
- Put on disposable gloves to protect your hands from coming into contact with poop.
- Use paper towels to remove the poop but be careful not to spread it around or push it deeper into the carpet or floor.
- Spray the area with a cleaning solution (either a commercial pet odor remover or a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar) and let it sit for a few minutes to soak in.
- Use a sponge to scrub the area and remove any remaining residue.
- When everything is visibly clean, spray the area with a disinfectant.
- Finally, dispose of any materials used and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
If the poop has been left to sit there for some time, you may need to use a stain remover or hire a professional cleaning service as a last resort.
What to Do If You Accidentally Touched Dog Poop
If you accidentally touched dog poop, don’t panic and promptly take action to minimize your risk for infection by washing and disinfecting your hands.
It’s not the end of the world and it has happened to many dog owners and other individuals before.
However, dog feces are a serious health concern so make sure to practice very good hygiene afterward.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soapy, warm water.
- Pay extra close attention to the areas under your fingernails and between your fingers.
- If you have cuts or open sores on your hand, use an antiseptic to disinfect the area.
If you develop any symptoms like fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea, seek medical attention right away.
Remember that dog poop contains harmful bacteria and parasites and it’s best to take proper precautions next time.
To avoid any contact, use disposable gloves when cleaning dog poop and disinfect anything that has come into contact with it.Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.