This article was published in the farming press recently, unfortunately the farming press isn't often read by dog walkers and so I have decided to share on this page in the hope it will reach a wider audience.
"FARMERS are pleading with dog walkers to clean up after their pets 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 asking the public to be more responsible.
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 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, farm unions including NFU Scotland have said.
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 these 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 said: “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.”
It is also worth bearing in mind as the lambing season nears that farmers are entitled to shoot a dog they believe could be worrying their stock before reporting the incident to the police, please, please, keep your dogs under control at all times.