For as much as we love our dogs, there are downsides to the companionship our four-legged friends offer. Nasty smells, messes, and the occasional illness are all par for the course, but there may be other factors of pet ownership that never crossed your mind, like whether your dog’s poop causes rat infestations. I know they didn’t for me!
One of the most commonly asked questions from dog owners is whether or not dog poop attracts rodents–specifically, rats and mice. Maybe you’ve seen signs about dog poop attracting rats at dog parks or on city streets. You may wonder if they’re for real, or if they’re just trying to scare owners into picking up after pups. Here’s what you should know.
Could Dog Poop Attract Rodents?
The short of it is: no one seems to be sure if dog poop attracts rodents. The jury is still out on whether dog poop draws rats and mice in a significant way. Some suggest that rodents will eat dog poop; however, they are more likely to be attracted to other food sources first, and dog poop is pretty low on their list of preferred meals.
Be forewarned, if you have a squeamish stomach, you may want to stop reading here.
The fact is that, while canine fecal matter contains a lot of things that are toxic to humans and pets, it also contains a lot of good things. Fat, proteins, and carbs are just the beginning, and all of these are things that rodents need to eat, just like us. Therefore, having these things just lying around in waiting makes them ideal targets for hungry rodents.
That said, rats are more likely to eat leftover food waste from trash bins and dumpsters, their own feces, or even baby rats before dog poop.
Bigger Problems Than Rats: Clean The Poop!
Even though picking up your dog’s poop might not have a major impact on rodent populations, there are still plenty of reasons to be a conscientious dog owner. In addition to making a mess of unsuspecting pedestrians’ shoes, poop can transmit bacteria, pests, and diseases between animals. It’s highly toxic, and many dogs are attracted to the smell and come into contact with it. They might step on it and track it inside on their paws. Dogs can easily get an infection from feces that makes them very sick.
Furthermore, leftover poop can run off or filter into the water supply, as one county in Colorado found out the hard way. When dog owners refused to pick up poop at a local dog park, E. coli levels in a nearby stream skyrocketed. The dog park had to close to stop the dangerous runoff while volunteers cleaned and nature recovered. The stream led to the water supply for the greater Denver area, and bacteria levels had already reached an amount that would close a public beach.
If you care about keeping dogs and people safe and healthy at all, do the right thing. Clean up the poop.
What Are The Signs of Rodents In Your House?
If your dog has an accident or frequent accidents in the home, you may be worried about attracting rats indoors. While dog poop, on its own, isn’t likely to cause an infestation, you should still know the signs of rodents in your house. They carry diseases, after all, and you’ll want to keep your dog and human family safe.
Fortunately, the signs of a rodent present in your house are pretty hard to miss. Usually, the first sign is food being nibbled on in your cabinets. The second and less appealing sign is, of course, rodent droppings. These will be nearly impossible to miss, as rodents defecate at a very high rate. They will usually look like small pellets that are dark in color.
Gnaw marks or stains on baseboards near floors are also signs. Rats and mice like to chew on things, and the grease on a rat’s fur often leaves smudge marks on lighter surfaces as they move. Your dog might also be a sure sign of an infestation, as they may act unusually when another animal is making itself at home in their territory.
If you find that your home might be infested, be sure to utilize pet safe traps to ensure that the four-legged friends that you want in your house stay safe. Try to avoid things like dangerous poisons or glue traps that pets and children can get into. While the best solution is prevention, sometimes pests find a way to move in.
Have you had experience with rodents while having pets? Do you think dog poop attracts rats? Let us know in the comments below.