What to do with dog poop
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How to Dispose of Dog Poop With Zero Waste

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Jan. 26 2021, Updated 5:14 p.m. ET

It becomes mechanical after a while: You’re walking your dog, they stop, do their business, and you scoop it up into a little baggie and throw it in the trash when you get home. If you have the benefit of a backyard, the job is a little easier to manage — albeit more treacherous for those who like to walk barefoot in the yard. Still, does all doggie doo necessarily have to be thrown away? Does all that waste have to go to waste? And if not, what should you actually do with dog poop in your yard?

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what to do with dog poop in yard
Source: Getty Images

What to do with dog poop in your yard:

There is not much else you can do with dog poop other than find eco-friendly ways to dispose of it. Dog poop is loaded with bacteria. According to Poop 911, 1 gram of dog waste can contain as many as 23 million fecal coliform bacteria. This bacteria has been known to cause illness in humans and can poison waterways. It’s not really the type of thing you want to leave lying around in your backyard or even your garden beds. 

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Can dog poop be flushed down the toilet?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the easiest and most environmentally safe way of disposing of your dog’s droppings is to just flush it down the toilet. The poop will make its way to the sewage treatment plant, where it will be processed. The idea is that the water treatment process will remove most of the pollutants before the errant stool reaches a river or stream. It works for us, so there’s no reason to believe it won’t work for our dogs. 

what to do with dog poop in yard
Source: Getty Images
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Can dog poop be used as fertilizer?

If the aforementioned amounts of dangerous bacteria did not convince you of this, allow us to be clearer — dog poop should not be used as fertilizer. This isn’t cow manure or chicken poop, which both generally start out as vegetation and are generally considered effective at recycling nutrients back into the soil.

As Poop 911 tells us, a dog’s protein-based diet often results in very acidic waste. Anyone who has walked out onto the front lawn to find an unexpected landmine can tell you that it’s not good for lawns. Dog poop can leave grass brown and burnt, and the harmful bacteria held within is not something you want cycling through your soil

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what to do with dog poop in yard
Source: Getty Images

Is it safe to use dog poop as compost?

So, you could compost your dog’s waste, but why would you? Even if dog waste did add a multitude of nutrients to your soil, it’s not something you want commingling with the compost you plan on using in your veggie patch. That coliform bacteria isn’t the only thing that can make its way into your foodstuffs through the soil. Any illnesses your dog might be suffering from, be it bacterial or parasitic, can wind up in their stool, then your compost, and potentially your tomatoes. 

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According to Treehugger, the public works department in Snohomish County outside Seattle conducted a four-year study about the ramifications of composting pet waste. Neither burial nor composting wound up killing the hazardous pathogens within the waste. E. coli, salmonella, and even roundworms were found to survive for up to four years buried in the soil. Dog poop can take a year to decompose on its own, which means those pathogens will linger on long after the smell has dissipated. 

what to do with dog poop in yard
Source: Getty Images
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Can I bury dog poop in my backyard?

You can bury dog poop in your backyard, but you should not do it without some sort of buffer between it and the outside world. Amazon sells a canine waste disposal system called the Doggie Dooley, which has been created for just this purpose. 

The Dooley is a sort of mini septic tank that itself gets buried in the yard. Once the device is installed and secured, you can load the poop in as it comes, occasionally adding water and powdered enzymes as needed. These components will help break the waste down over time.

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