At first glance this might seem an odd choice for an article, however many dogs and cat owners are all too aware that pet poo is becoming a major issue and the focus of many a rant, both on and offline. So much so that some would like to see an end to dog and cat ownership or, at the very least, draconian measures against dogs and owners around public footpaths and green spaces. Perhaps it is time for all pet owners to unite to control the poo problem, before it controls us.

I am sure that like me, most of you dog owners religiously ‘pick up’, never venturing forth without the obligatory bag. Sadly, however, there are those who are not so fastidious, and we have all seen owners that suddenly become fixated on their mobile phone or some other urgent business, just as their pooch begins to circle and squat. If witnessed, perhaps a polite reminder and gently proffered bag may prompt said owner to do the decent thing. It might even be time for all dog owners to try to pick up one extra of whatever they see lying around, whether from their own dog or not.

There are various laws that enable councils to penalise dog poo offences but cats are much more difficult to ‘police’. Although cats have freedom to roam in law, the popularity of felines as pets combined with increasingly dense urban living, means objections to cat poo are also on the up. Most cats prefer to toilet a little away from their core territory. Outdoor cats will often want to bury poo at the edges of their territory (on average 300 yards from home) and that could mean your neighbour’s garden. Discovering poo while gardening is unpleasant, especially so if the cat has diarrhoea. Cat owners should try to ensure outdoor cats are encouraged to toilet in their own garden- a patch of freshly dug soil, as far from the house as possible and cleaned up on a regular basis, should help encourage your cat to defecate closer to home.

Healthy pets produce firm, compact stools and should not need to go three or four times a day. Compact stools are easier and less stomach churning to pick up and dispose of. If your pet has loose, large, or overly smelly stools, then it might be wise to visit the vet for a health check and review of diet. Your pet is unlikely to benefit much from food that is passing straight through him and bowel habit is a useful barometer of health and appropriate diet.

It is also worth remembering that pet poo is not only anti-social there are also significant associated health risks. Most pet dogs are treated for worms and parasites, but not all. Dog poo can contain roundworm larvae, a parasite that can cause blindness, especially in children. Cat poo if anything is worse; it carries the embryonic form of a parasite responsible for Toxoplasmosis, with particular risks for expectant mothers and the unborn child.

Overall the message to outdoor cat owners is ensure you provide a suitable toileting space in your own garden or home and clean up every few days. City dog owners should practice vigilance, bagging and binning. Dog owners can also teach their pet to defecate on command at the right time in an appropriate place. Dogs for the blind are taught to do this from puppyhood and perhaps this practice should be part of all basic puppy training. As a final thought, there is some evidence that with the right equipment cat poo can be hot composted and dog poo used in a wormery. Neither should ever be used to fertilise edible plants. For more information see

By Leonie St Clair|

This article first appeared in the September 2017 issue of SE22 magazine.