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Pet Waste Cleanup in Tacoma

T-town Dawgs

Tacoma eye doggy

It was a great summer here in T-town.  This summer showed me that Tacoma has so much to offer; quality museums, good schools, the Tacoma Rainiers and a great metro park system with many parks for recreation. In an effort to maintain these high quality parks, they also have a pet scoop law.

Why is a scoop law important? One reason is the Toxocara canis nematode.  The center for disease control (CDC) mentions that nearly 14% of the US population has developed antibodies to this parasite meaning about 14% of American citizens have been exposed to this parasite.


Dogs and to a lesser extent -cats can carry “Toxo” parasites and the eggs (this should not be confused with another parasite- Toxoplasmosis). If a child/adult were to accidentally swallow dirt that has been contaminated with dog feces these eggs can be ingested. Another method of contamination is eating undercooked meats that have the Toxocara Canis larvae. Toxocariiasis was first discovered in 1950 but we know it existed much earlier. These larvae have spread worldwide and often will pose little threat to humans but in some cases the larvae will damage the liver, the lungs, the central nervous system or even the eyes. In fact 70 people in the USA are blinded by toxocara canis each year. A small number but this number can be dramatically reduced by following a few simple rules.

Rule #1 Pick up after your dog! It’s a no-brainer and as I mentioned, the city of Tacoma makes it easy for us.

Other preventative steps:

  • Get regular pet care with a veterinarian. They can test and deworm pets who are afflicted
  • Wash your hands and your kid’s hands after playing with pets, outdoor activites, handling food.
  • Don’t let your kids play with soil in dog parks, dog runs, dog pens.

Here in Tacoma, with the Asarco smelter it is fairly common practice to avoid disrupting the soil and the keep our hands clean.  Here is an uncommon but important reason as well.

DUNBAR retinal granuloma

A retinal granuloma in a patient infected with the Toxocara nematode.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Dr. Meers