The typically Swiss image of quiet cows grazing idly on lush green mountain meadows may turn out not to be so idyllic after all.
A Swiss newspaper is reporting growing concern among farmers in Canton Aargau, in the north of the country, about dog waste deposited on the country's meadows.
"Dog dirt in the grass is a health hazard for cows and can lead to the death of the animals," the Aargauer Zeitung quotes from a note from the village of Büttikon, northern Switzerland. The paper says dog owners are now being threatened with legal action in cases where cows are proven to be harmed.
According to a local tale, a cow died 10 years ago in the region after eating grass contaminated with dog faeces, an event that, while never proven, was enough to get the farmers worried.
Vets appear to downplay the health risk, says the paper, adding that only 10% of cases of transmission of dangerous parasites occur between dog and cow.
“From time to time a parasite is transmitted," Dr. Adrian Meyer was quoted as saying by the paper. The worms most commonly present in dog poo cannot be transmitted from dogs to cows, however. Faeces of foxes, or even birds and insects are more likely to pose a risk of infection.
"It's all much more complex than to say: it was the dog," Dr. Meyer said.