A retail giant is moving away from its long-held policy of requiring pet owners to remove all traces of parasites from their dogs’ faeces, in response to concerns that it may encourage the spread of Lyme disease.
The company, which sells pet food, is the first major retailer to drop the requirement.
“This policy will not encourage the transmission of Lyme or other disease to our customers,” said Costco spokeswoman Sarah Schulze-Roth, according to Reuters.
The move came after a group of researchers reported that the retailer was “deploying a dewormers product that includes a de-worming ingredient, which could potentially be spreading the virus”.
Costco has previously been forced to reverse its position after a viral outbreak in 2016 caused $10 million in losses for the company.
“The policy has proven effective at reducing disease transmission, and we’ve had positive results,” Schulz-Roths told Reuters.
“In the past, we’ve seen that when people are more engaged and engaged in getting rid of the parasites in their pets, we see higher rates of disease transmission.”
The move comes at a time when more and more people are choosing to vaccinate their pets.
Last month, a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that pet vaccination rates were at a six-year high.
“We’ve seen a spike in pet vaccination programs in the US and in Canada, with rates at record highs, as well as more Americans choosing to immunize their pets,” Schulsen-Ruth told Reuters at the time.
“These vaccines have been proven to be very effective, and are the most effective vaccines available today.”
The US is a key market for the pet food company.
A majority of American households have a pet, according a 2016 report from Consumer Reports.
In 2017, the United States was the third most popular country in the world for pet owners.
The pet food industry accounts for a quarter of US gross domestic product, according the Center for Responsive Politics.