Pet Odors and Potential Health Risks

Written by: Greg Wiszniewski

Pet odors in the home can be both unpleasant and potentially dangerous, depending on the circumstances. If odors are significant, pet waste can emit ammonia into the air. Ammonia can cause unpleasant reactions in humans, and it can also lead to illness. Regular monitoring of pet activities should help minimize issues from messes and odors. If a pet makes a mess where it shouldn’t, clean it up promptly with special enzymatic cleaners designed to neutralize these messes. Pet dander in the home can also cause allergic reactions in some people. Careful sanitary practices in the home should prevent problems with odors and bacteria.

Odors and Your Health (PDF): Odors can be a cause of health problems. The human olfactory system has the responsibility of detecting odors.
Indoor Air Hazards Every Homeowner Should Know About: Signs of indoor air hazards may include noticeable odors, stale air, and a lack of air movement in a home.
Biological Pollutants in Your Home: Pet dander can be a source of biological pollutants. Some people have sensitivities to biological pollutants, and they may have an allergic reaction.
How to Clean Up Cat Urine: When cat urine comes into contact with a household surface, it’s important to clean up the mess quickly. If odors persist after cleaning an area, it may be necessary to resurface or replace materials.
Pet Stains: Cleaning up pet stains within an hour or two of occurrence should be enough to resolve the stain and odor. Applying sunlight and air circulation to a stain can also help resolve it.
Odors: What’s That Smell? (PDF): It may be possible to neutralize odors in bedding by sprinkling the area with baking soda. Allow the baking soda to sit on the fabric for several hours, then vacuum it.
Baking Soda: The Everyday Miracle (PDF): Baking soda neutralizes odor molecules to stop unpleasant smells. Baking soda is also a natural and safe substance, making it ideal for sprinkling on a pet’s bed to control odors.
What to Do if Your Dog Soils the House: When pets make messes in the house, you must clean up the mess thoroughly to prevent issues. An enzymatic cleaner will break down molecules to remove them completely from a surface.
Help Yourself to a Healthy Home (PDF): Restricting pets from living areas and bedrooms can help if family members have problems with asthma or allergies. This restriction will help eliminate pet dander from these areas.
The Indoor Cat Initiative (PDF): Cats may intentionally mark their territory with urine spray. If this occurs, you will need to clean up the mess thoroughly to prevent lingering odors.
Bathing Your Dog: Dogs need regular bathing to minimize odors, which they can transfer to surroundings in a home.
Asthma Triggers (PDF): Cats, dogs, birds, and rodents can produce allergens that enter the air and incite an allergic response in some people. Improper cleaning in a home may lead to an excess of dander and odors, which can make allergies worse.
Dangers of Dog Poop: Failure to clean up dog feces can lead to contamination and illness. Parasites are often present in dog feces, which can transfer to humans to cause illness.
Five Important Reasons to Clean Up Pet Waste: Cleaning up and disposing of pet waste is one of the tasks of pet ownership. Allowing waste to accumulate without disposing of it can lead to unpleasant odors and illness.
Ammonia Fact Sheet: Allowing pet waste to fester without cleaning it can lead to the release of ammonia into the air. Ammonia has a strong and unpleasant odor. Exposure to ammonia can lead to health issues.
Indoor Air Issues: Ammonia (PDF): Ammonia is colorless, but it has a strong odor. Pet urine contains ammonia. Exposure to ammonia in an enclosed area can cause irritation of the throat, eyes, and nose. Headaches may also occur.
What Is Ammonia? Ammonia occurs naturally in some types of bacteria, including pet urine. People may notice exposure to ammonia with symptoms such as burning eyes, nose, and throat.
Removing Pet Stains and Odors (PDF): Finding the source of pet odors can be challenging. Using a black light may enable you to find old urine stains.
Successful Cleaning to Remove Pet Odors and Stains (PDF): Steam cleaners can be counterproductive when cleaning urine stains from upholstery and carpet. The heat from the steam may actually set in the odor and the stain instead of removing them.
Removing Pet Stains and Odors: Cleaning pet stains with products containing ammonia or vinegar will mask the odors instead of removing them. An enzymatic cleaner should effectively remove both stains and odors.
Successful Cleaning to Remove Pet Odors and Stains (PDF): Pet supply stores sell enzymatic cleaners for removing pet stains and odors.
Cleaning Tips: Failure to clean up urine completely may lead to future problems. Even if you cannot smell urine, a pet probably can. The pet may make additional messes in the same area because urine odors persist.
Odor Removal Guidelines: Changing a litter box regularly is an effective way to minimize pet odors in the home.
Owning a Cat: A dirty litter box may lead a cat to urinate inappropriately in the home. If a cat feels threatened, it may also urinate outside of the litter box to mark its territory.
Creature Comforts: Assess potential litter box issues if a cat has problems with inappropriate urination. Placing the litter box in a location where a cat feels uncomfortable might cause the cat to refuse to use it.
Cat Behavior Tips (PDF): A cat may have a health problem if it does not use a litter box correctly. Have a cat evaluated by a veterinarian if indiscriminate urination occurs.
Urine Spraying (PDF): Neutering a male cat is an effective way to stop urine spraying in the home. Always clean up urine messes quickly and thoroughly to avoid lingering pet odor.
Last modified: May 31, 2017

Why Pick up Dog Poop? The Dangers of Dog Feces

Why Pick up Dog Poop? The Dangers of Dog Feces
Updated on July 29, 2016
Natashalh profile imageNatasha moreContact Author

Why Pick up Dog Poop?
“I pay taxes, why should I have to pick up dog poop?”

“It’s like fertilizer – it’s good to let is stay there!”

“Dogs are part of nature – letting their poop stay on the ground is natural, too.”

Have you heard, or even thought, these excuses before? Approximately 40% of dog-owning Americans polled have admitted they don’t pick up after their pet. Unfortunately, cleaning up after your dog is your responsibility as a pet owner. Even if you keep your dog contained to your own yard, taking the time to regularly clean up after it helps keep your family and community safe. Once you discover the threats dog feces pose to humans and the environment, you won’t want to leave the house without a plastic pick up bag again!

Dog Poop Dangers
Dog poop smells bad and no one likes stepping in it, but it is more than an inconvenience: it is a legitimate danger. Dog poop dangers come in several forms.

It poisons grass and lawns.
It carries hookworms, ringworms, tapeworms, and more.
It transmits human diseases, too!
It pollutes waterways and is in the same EPA category as oil and mine runoff!
This little guy is fluffy and cute, but his unattended poop could still cause harm.
This little guy is fluffy and cute, but his unattended poop could still cause harm. | Source
Dog Poop Is not Fertilizer
Cow manure is an age-old, and effective, fertilizer, but dog poop is not. Cows are herbivores and their poop is pretty much broken down plant matter. It’s sort of like smelly compost. Well, just like you’re not supposed to put meat products in your compost bin, a dog’s diet makes its poop very poor as a fertilizer. In fact, it is usually pretty toxic to plants. It is very acidic and will kill your grass if left unattended. Have you ever picked up an old bit of doggie business and found the grass withered and yellow beneath? It isn’t just from the blocked sunlight – dog poop is literally poison for plants. Actually putting it in your garden as fertilizer (yes, people try this!) can contaminate your fruits and veggies with harmful bacteria. Even if you don’t intentionally place dog poop in your garden, runoff can make your produce unsafe.

I wish I had thumbs and could pick up after myself!
I wish I had thumbs and could pick up after myself! | Source
Dog Poop Carries Disease
Of course, dog poop can carry worms. This means if your dog visits the park and someone else left dog poop with worm eggs laying on the ground, your pup is vulnerable. Dog poop can carry human-infecting ailments, too, including vicious parasites. Among other things, Fido feces can include:

E. coli
Parvo virus
Roundworms (the CDC shows 14% of Americans are infected with roundworms)
Up to 23 million coliform bacterial per gram of poop!
Integrated leash/bag holders make it impossible to forget a bag when going out for a walk!

Dog Poop Contaminates Water
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone tell me not to worry about a particular piece of poop because it was about to rain soon, anyway. Not picking up fresh poop before rainfall is even worse than letting it sit on a dry day!

When the rain washes over dog poop and flows into the drainage system, that contaminated water is carried into local waterways. If you like to hang out at a nearby river or lake, this means the fecal water is mixed in where you enjoy swimming and boating! Studies indicate that about 90% of fecal coliform bacteria, which is used as a measure of water health and quality, is of non-human origin, mostly canine. Dog poop is considered so dangerous that it is in the same EPA pollutant category as oil and runoff from abandon mines, and two or three days worth of un-picked up poop from 100 dogs can cause a big enough spike in bacteria levels to necessitate closing waterways within 20 miles to swimming and shell fishing.

Using a rake scooper makes it easy to clean your yard without smashing poop into the grass.

How to Dispose of Dog Poop
There are many different ways to dispose of dog poop:

Use special, biodegradable pick up bags and throw it in the trash.
Reuse your plastic grocery bags to pick it up.
Flush it down the toilet (this is okay for dog poop, but some bacteria in cat poop can survive water treatment).
Hire a professional poop removal company.

5 Important Reasons to Clean up Pet Waste

Important Reasons to Clean up Pet Waste
By Drs. Foster & Smith Veterinary Staff

Dog in yard Dealing with pet waste is one of those topics that every pet owner must deal with but no one likes to talk about. The fact is that the majority of community and neighborhood pet problems result from the inappropriate handling of pet waste. In addition, pet waste is the greatest source of potential health risk for your pet and your family. This article will highlight the five most important reasons to properly dispose of pet waste and will also give you some tips and products to make this chore easier.
#1. Disease Control

There are several very common diseases that can be transmitted to dogs, cats and people through feces. These include giardia, roundworms, salmonella, and Ecoli. In addition, your dog can spread or contract parvovirus or coronavirus through infected feces. All of these diseases are very serious and common and every effort should be made by pet owners to keep their pets and family away from potentially infected feces. One of the easiest ways to do this is to install an in-ground stool digester like the Doggie Dooley. These digesters work like mini septic systems, safely breaking down feces and then allowing the residue to harmlessly sink into the surrounding soil. These handy little gadgets are one of the best ways that I’ve ever found to deal with dog or cat waste.

#2. Make your Yard more Useable

Nobody likes to walk through a yard that is hiding “doggie land mines.” If you and your children are afraid to use your yard because of the dog, then you are wasting one of your biggest time and financial investments. In addition, the pets will get less interactive exercise and suffer as well. Once or twice a day ‘scooping’ off your yard with a shovel or Grabber pet waste shovel will only take a couple of minutes and make it a place where everyone enjoys spending time.

#3. Fly Control

Doggie Dooley In-ground Stool Digester Flies will consume and lay eggs in feces. These same flies will then come into your house and then spread disease as they pause on your counter and food. Need I say more about keeping feces cleaned up to prevent this cycle?

#4. Responsible Pet Ownership

Your responsibility to clean up after your pet doesn’t end when your dog leaves your yard. There are probably fewer things that aggravate neighbors more than a dog that ‘goes’ in their yard. Pet owners need to clean up after their pet every time they go to the bathroom. Period. No exceptions. If you are walking in the woods and your dog goes, then bury it. If you are in a park or neighborhood, pick it up with a plastic bag or a Dispoz-a-Scoop. If you don’t have a yard, then walk your dog on a leash or get an electronic fence. Don’t make your responsibility somebody else’s problem.

#5. Preventing Stool Eating

While most dog owners think this doesn’t apply to them or their dog, the shocking truth is that most dogs will engage in this unsavory practice at some point in their life. Dogs evolved as carnivore/scavengers and feces were considered fair game in lean times. To prevent this occasional indiscretion from becoming a life-long habit, clean up feces as soon as possible, especially in young dogs where the problem is most prevalent. At the first sign of this bad habit consider adding an oral product like Dis-Taste to your dog’s food to decrease the palatability of the stools.

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