NFU Scotland is urging members of the public to clean up after their dogs when walking on agricultural land.


Parasites found in some dog faeces can result in the abortions of cattle and death in sheep and with several reports over recent months, local farmers are pleading with the public to be more responsible.


As we are now well and truly into lambing and calving season, the message to members of the public is to remember to pick up any faeces from dogs they are walking, including when they are using agricultural land.


There is evidence of the links between two specific diseases in livestock and the presence on grazing land of faeces from infected dogs, these are Neosporosis and Sarcocystosis.


Neosporosis can cause abortions in cattle and is thought to be responsible for the highest percentage of all cattle abortions reported in the UK. Neospora eggs are produced by infected dogs and excreted in their faeces. Cattle will then become infected if they eat food, ie grass, or drink water contaminated with the eggs.


The prevalence of the disease in herds, and its potential impact on farm economics – due to infected cows being more likely to abort, premature culling and reduced milk yields – make this an important disease to try to control.


Sarcocystosis is also caused by parasites, which can use dogs as intermediate hosts, and similarly the eggs are produced and excreted in faeces. Sheep will become infected if they eat food or drink contaminated by the eggs.


The presence of sarcocysts, parasites, on a carcass following slaughter can result in the carcass being condemned. The disease can be passed on from ewe to lamb during pregnancy.


In terms of both these diseases, faeces from infected dogs can contaminate pasture and animal feed, water or bedding. There is currently no licensed vaccine or drugs available for these diseases.


Animal Health and Welfare Policy Manager for NFU Scotland, Penny Johnston commented:


This is becoming an increasing problem for many farmers, especially when located on urban fringes and is an important issue for dog owners to be aware of, both for the health of their own pet but also the livestock grazing on that land.


“Those utilising any agricultural land to exercise their pets should do so responsibly and clean up after their animals to avoid the spread of disease.”

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