How to Safely Dispose of Dog Poop

With more than 78,000,000 pet dogs in the United States alone, you can’t go far without seeing, smelling, or stepping in dog poop. In fact, it’s estimated that our canine companions generate about 10 million tons of solid waste each and every year. Trying to safely dispose of that much waste can be a sanitation nightmare. Securing it in a plastic bag and throwing it in the trash is not a solution – it’s just pawning the problem off on a future generation. So how do we safely dispose of dog poop in an environmentally-friendly way?

Can’t We Just Leave It In the Dirt to Biodegrade?

No. It will come as no surprise that animal waste contains pathogens that can make us, our pets and wildlife very ill. Although dog poop will decompose, the pathogens it contains will just be released into the soil or a nearby water supply. Once in a stream or lake, the nutrients in dog waste will feed algae causing large algae blooms. As a result, the algae use up the oxygen supply within that body of water, causing native aquatic populations to die off.

safely dispose of dog poop

Dog waste left on the ground to decompose can cause a serious health hazard. Image credit: Thomas R Machnitzki

Can I Safely Dispose of Dog Poop by Composting?

Composting dog waste is a viable solution that is relatively safe for the environment, provided it is done correctly. First of all, it should not be composted in your regular family compost pile because it will likely not get hot enough to kill the pathogens. You also don’t want to be putting composted dog waste on your tomatoes or carrots. You can, however, purchase a unit specifically designed to compost dog waste, or you can build your own. Both manufactured and do-it-yourself units work on the same principle. You bury the containment unit in the ground – a safe distance from your vegetable garden or any water source – and it works on the same principles as a septic system.

safely dispose of dog poop

The first step in composting to safely dispose of dog poop is to dig a hole at least 100 yards away from your garden or any water source. Image credit: Ronny Satzke

Can I Safely Dispose of Dog Poop by Flushing It?

Yes, you can safely dispose of dog poop by flushing it. When you flush your toilet, the contents are sent to a wastewater treatment plant for processing. There, the pathogens will be killed and the nutrients will be filtered away before the water is returned to the environment. If your home uses a private septic system instead of a municipal sewer system, the effect is the virtually the same. Depending on the number and size of your dogs, you’ll just want to be sure that your system is large enough to handle the extra waste.

safely dispose of dog poop

Our canine companions generate about 10 million tons of solid waste each year. Image credit: Adam Truncale

Being a conscientious dog owner means more than regularly taking Fido to the vet. It also means minimizing his environmental impact the same way you do your own. One of the best ways we can do that is to safely dispose of dog poop in an environmentally-friendly way.

27 Comments

  1. Wow, I have never thought about this before. Ever. I grew up with family dogs, and we have three now. I’ve never thought about doing anything with it, other than putting it into the trash can. Flushing it is a good option though, and one I never would have even thought of.

    • Lisa – I have found that a lot of people don’t realize the biohazards associated with pet waste. More signage would help to educate communities.

  2. Well heck that is news to me! In our yard – since we have very small dogs, I just left the poop there thinking it will go back to the earth in the best way possible. How wrong I was!! Thank you for this!!

  3. Wow! I never thought about this. I mean we toss in bags and dispose in marked containers but I never thought about what happens next or even other ways to dispose of dog waste. We compost but I never thought of composting dog waste. Interesting. Thanks for the tips.

    • Tomi – I don’t think it’s something most people think about. They do their part by cleaning up after their dog, but never had a reason to think that the plastic bag disposal method isn’t environmentally safe.

  4. We compost our dog poop and always have. It is great for the lawn. When we go for a walk I use a bag but flush it when we get home.

    • Karen – As we get further into the discussion of the environmental point of no return, issues like this will start rising in importance. Although extremely inconvenient, so is contaminated water.

  5. I never even thought to pick up my girl’s waste! I don’t live by any water and she only goes in the backyard and she’s small so her poops are too. I think if she were any bigger I would have to deal with them by digging them up or something.

    • I agree. It’s so frustrating when I see dog waste along our sidewalks, streets and especially our parks where little children play. It gives all dog owners a bad name.

  6. I think all owners of pets should do this. I hate when you see it out on the ground or accidentally step on it. I don’t have any dogs, but I know how it sucks when you see it.

  7. This is a topic that bothers me now that we live in a community with other animals. Not everyone picks up their dogs waste and leaves it for others to do. It irks me because our community even provides the doodie bags and waste stations.

  8. This was a fascinating read. I never thought to put dog pooo in the toilet. My brain is trained for the trash. I don’t have any pets but now I want to ask dog owners questions. Lol

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