The Best Ways to Dispose of Dog Poop

Walking dog on leash with poop bags
Picking up after your dog is part of responsible pet ownership.

Getty Images/Elva Etienne

Picking up your dog’s poop is not fun, but cleaning up after your dog is a necessary part of being a responsible pet owner. If you’ve ever wondered about the best ways to dispose dog poop, you’re not alone. Take a look at the most common options for disposing your dog’s poop to find out which ones are the best for both you and the environment. 

Burying it

Burying your dog’s poop might seem like a good idea, but you might be surprised to discover that it’s one of the worst ways to dispose of your dog’s waste. As the Sierra Club explains, burying dog poop can contaminate both the soil and nearby water sources.

Dog poop can contain dangerous pathogens, including Giardia, Salmonella, E. coli, Ancylostoma, Cryptosporidium, and Toxocara canis. These pathogens can leach into the soil and end up contaminating ponds, streams, lakes, and other water sources, as well as gardens that grow fruits and vegetables for human consumption. Even burying dog poop in your own yard is not a great idea; certain contagious parasites and bacteria can remain in the soil for months or even years, potentially infecting your pets or even your human family. 

Tossing it in the trash

The simplest way to dispose of your dog’s poop is picking it up with a bag and throwing it away in the trash. Sending poop to the landfill might seem like it’s bad for the environment, but this is actually a pretty great option when you balance convenience with the need to protect soil and water from contamination. This is why it’s a good idea to always have a supply of poop bags with you when walking your dog. Remember, never leave your filled, knotted bags on the sidewalk; you can't expect others to pick them up for you. Always take your dog’s poop with you to dispose of at home, or deposit the bag in a trash receptacle. 

If the thought of all those plastic poop bags headed to the landfill makes you cringe, there is an easy way to be more eco-friendly when throwing your dog’s poop in the trash. Pet stores and online retailers offer alternatives to plastic bags, including flushable bags and biodegradable/compostable bags. Flushable poop bags are made from a special material that becomes very soft in water. These should dissolve readily when you flush them, but some brands dissolve better than others, and they can cause issues with plumbing systems if they don’t break down quickly enough.

Biodegradable poop bags are meant to be used for composting. Contrary to popular belief, biodegradable poop bags won’t break down in a landfill environment. This is because biodegradable bags need oxygen in order to break down. A biodegradable bag in a landfill will remain intact just like a plastic bag will. However, even if you throw biodegradable poop bags or compostable bags in the trash, they are still a greener option than using petroleum-based plastic bags because bags that are meant to break down are made from plant materials.

Flushing it

You might be able to flush your dog’s poop, but check your community's guidelines on this. This method, however, can be a bit messy if you consider how you will pick the poop up off the ground and transport it to your toilet. Water-soluble doggie poop bags marketed to be flushable can help with this task, but use them cautiously. As with flushable wipes for humans, flushable doggie bags can contribute to clogs and other plumbing problems if the bag does not dissolve quickly enough. 

Composting it

When disposing of dog waste, possibly the best option for the environment is composting, which is a special way of containing the poop and helping it to break down so that harmful pathogens are destroyed. Composted dog poop can be used like fertilizer when added to the soil in your garden with one caveat—it should only be used for ornamental gardens, never for food gardens that produce fruits and vegetables. It is important to compost correctly using the proper equipment and supplies, and to maintain it appropriately.

Click here for helpful information from the USDA on composting dog poop. Some poop bags made from natural plant materials are compostable, so you can toss the poop and bag right into your composter.

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