Can You Compost Dog Poop?
Having a pet means cleaning up waste. Since your goal is to reduce waste, you’re likely wondering what is the best way to dispose of dog poop. If you’re a gardener, you may be wondering if it is safe to add scooped dog droppings to your compost pile.
The answer is maybe. Let’s take a look at the yes and no of composting dog poop.
Keeping Pet Waste out of Plastic Bags in Landfills
The average dog excretes about a pound of waste daily.
In Tennessee, pet owners must immediately and properly dispose of their pet’s solid waste deposited on any public or private property not owned or possessed by that person.
Pet parents who have zero waste as a goal will definitely not want to put dog feces in plastic bags and throw them into trash cans. There are other ways to pick up behind your dog. But what to do with it after you pick up behind your dog?
The strangest thing we do with dog poo is tie it up in little plastic bags that we then toss into the garbage. Poop will naturally break down into organic material in less than a year.
Putting organic matter into plastic waste bags compounds the problem though as it no longer has oxygen or access to microbes to help in this process. In 5-10 years the plastic might decompose enough to allow the stuff inside to break down.
Using plastic bags to pick up dog waste is not a good idea.
Composting Dog Waste
So how does the composting process work and what can you do with dog manure? Composting is the breakdown of natural materials into organic materials.
Many gardeners use vermicomposting (worm excrement) to put nutrients back into the soil. A compost bin is a great place to put food waste, like banana peels, eggshells, and other vegetable scraps.
Many people compost animal waste with great success. Some folks even use a sawdust toilet to eliminate the need for water to flush human waste. Sawdust toilets turn organic waste into compost, but it’s best to keep this type of compost out of the garden beds.
If you plan to compost dog poop, it is important to know how to do so properly.
Is it safe to compost dog poop?
Many folks say no.
In many cases, dog poop is considered a pollutant. According to TN.gov it is not safe to add pet waste to residential composting. This is due to pathogens, too small for humans to see with the naked eye. The risks include roundworm eggs, tapeworms, E.coli, and salmonella.
There are dogs pooping in other parts of the world and the natural process occurs without human interference. Some people let their dogs out into the yard to poop without ever picking up behind them.
Again, the risk of leaving pet poop in your yard is that it can end up in groundwater. It is best to pick it up, but what to do with it next?
Some experts say yes.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, composting pet waste is safe for flower beds, lawn maintenance, and shrubs as long as it isn’t used for plants grown for human consumption. (1)
Composting dog waste is a simple and inexpensive method for disposing of dog waste that can enhance the environment and reduce the amount of waste deposited in landfills.
In Alaska, an estimated 20 million pounds of dog waste is produced every year. Mostly from sled dogs in kennels. Composting can reduce the amount of waste by more than half.
Dog owners whether you plan to compost at home or simply toss the pet poo in the trash, using compostable bags is preferable. You can also use a claw scooper to move the pet waste into your compost bin.
Read this PDF by the USDA about how to safely set up home compost for animal waste.
Supplies you need for Dog Waste Compost
- greens – grass clippings
- browns – dried leaves
Make your own Dog Poop Composter
There are many composting systems available commercially. However, you can easily punch holes in the bottom of a large waste can and bury it in the ground as a DIY alternative.
Keep grass clippings or dry leaves nearby to cover the dog waste. When your dog goes number two, shovel it into the can, cover it with grass clippings and put the lid back on. The holes in the sides of the can allow nature to take its course.
Rainwater and worms can go in and out to help break down the dog poop. Also, adding worms to the composter will accelerate the process.
Flushable Poop Bags
Yes, it many cases you can flush dog poop. Flushable poop bags make this a possibility and believe it or not the EPA recommends it. According to the EPA, flushing dog poop allows water to be treated eliminating the opportunity to contaminate local waterways.
Cat waste is another story. Most water districts prefer that cat poop is not flushed because of the wide variation in cat litter. Other concerns are that cat poop contains a parasite called Toxoplasma Gondii which is harmful to humans.
Read more about composting dog poop in the following book: