What Should I Do With My Dog’s Poop? We Asked The Experts

how to properly dispose of dog poop

Dog poop can be a real nuisance. It’s smelly, it’s gross and it can make you sick if you’re not careful about how you dispose of it. 

In this article, I will go over the basics for disposing of dog poop safely so that your family is safe from any harmful bacteria or parasites present in the waste.

I’ll be talking about whether you can flush dog waste down your toilet or if it’s safe to compost it on your own property.

I’ll also be sharing my top tips on what type of dog poop bags work best, and sharing my favourite gadgets for picking up poop and for carrying it; no more sauntering home swinging a fully laden bag of poop casually by your side!

Why is dog poop so dangerous?

Dog poop can contain harmful bacteria and parasites that are bad for your health and for other pets. The most common intestinal parasites present in dog faeces include roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and giardia. These parasites release eggs into the faeces, which can cause illness in people and dogs when infected faeces are ingested.  

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These unhealthy creatures feed on the nutrients in dog droppings – so if you don’t dispose of poop properly you will encourage their growth.

1 gram of dog waste can contain as many as 23 million fecal coliform bacteria. (Poop911.com)

Top 5 Intestinal Parasites in Dogs

ParasiteDescription, symptoms and diagnosis
RoundwormsIntestinal parasites contracted by animals or humans by either ingesting an infective egg,eating animal tissue containing the larva, or passing from mother to kitten via the milk. Most pets with roundworm infections are asymptomatic but can have vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, failure to thrive, and a pot-bellied appearance. Roundworms can be seen in feeces and vomit with a spaghetti noodle appearance. Your veterinarian will make a complete diagnosis with a fecal sample.  
HookwormsIntestinal parasites that live in the small intestines of animals. Animals and humans can become infected with hookworms in three main routes. The first is the ingestion of a larval stage from the environment. The second is the ingestion of other animals with the infected larva in their tissue. The third is the larva entering in through the skin. Hookworm symptoms are seen more in puppies or kittens, and adults tend to be asymptomatic. Symptoms can include anorexia, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration. Hookworms will not be seen in your pet’s stool and will need to be diagnosed by fecal sample with your veterinarian.  
WhipwormsWhipworms are intestinal parasites that pets, not humans, become infected with by ingesting the infectious eggs from the environment. Dogs are more prone to be infected with whipworms compared to cats. Infections with whipworms tend to be asymptomatic, but possible symptoms include diarrhea, bloody stool, straining to defecate, weight loss, anorexia, anemia, and belly pain. Diagnosis of whipworms will be made by your veterinarian with a fecal sample, and look for the eggs in your pet’s sample.
GiardiaGiardia is an intestinal infection of protozoa from ingestion of fecal contaminated soil, food, or water by animals or humans. Younger animals tend to have infections more often than older animals, but older animals can have more severe symptoms. The most common symptom of Giardia in pets is diarrhea. Your veterinarian makes a diagnosis of Giardia with a fecal sample. 
Intestinal parasites in dogs faeces. Source: Dr. Michelle Burch, DVM @ Safe Hounds Pet InsuranceSafehounds.com

Dog poop is also very dangerous for our environment – it can contaminate natural resources such as water and spread disease across the land, affecting wildlife populations in its wake.

America’s 83 million dogs produce about 10.6 million tons of pet waste every year, yet only about 60 to 70 percent of dog owners pick up after their pets. ( source: Leave No Trace)

What are your options when disposing of dog waste?

There are many ways you might think of to get rid of your pup’s droppings including; disposal in your household trash, flushing droppings down the toilet and burying it in a hole. But are these really the best ways and are they legal? And how do you pick up the poop safely in the first place?

What to do with dog poop on your property

The best thing to do is pick up the offending waste with a poop bag and dispose of it in your household trash. Poop bags are made specifically for picking up dog droppings, so you want to use these when cleaning-up after your pet if possible. The idea behind using these types of bags is that they keep the poop contained so you want a poo bag with good handles to tie up and leak!

Can dog poop be flushed down the toilet?

Yes and no. You would have thought you can dispose of your pup’s waste by flushing it down the loo as when it’s flushed away the will be processed through the sewage treatment plant just like human poop. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US this is the easiest and most environmentally safe way of disposing of doggy doo-doo.

But Anglian Water in the UK says this is a big no-no as the sewer network is not suitable for treating any kind of animal faeces due to the presence of toxocara (also known as roundworm). Roundworm can survive the processing treatment, so don’t flush your dog poop. You should be worming your dog regularly anyway to avoid these even being in the poop.

Can I use dog poop as a fertiliser?

If the talk of roundworms, and other nasties hasn’t convinced you yet, then no, you should not use dog poo directly as fertiliser on your vegetables. Dog poop is not like horse manure or chicken guano which are mostly vegetable matter. A dog’s waste is very acidic and not only full of the aforementioned bacteria and parasites, but you’ve seen what it does to your grass!

Is it safe to use dog poop as compost instead?

Well there is an ongoing debate about whether it is safe to compost dog poop at home. I asked the experts for their opinions to try and get to a definitive answer.

 “Dog poo is compostable but there are necessary precautions which need to be taken to make sure it’s safe. Composting can produce a nutrient-rich soil without harmful pathogens and should be kept separate from compost used in edible plants. Dog poo does contain parasites and pathogens but a well maintained compost at home, will eventually be killed within a year.” Says Kiki from poo bag manufacturer Fetch.it

Although you can buy dog poop composters the bacteria and parasites will not break down completely during the composting process according to The Public Works dept of Snohomish County who conducted a four-year study about the ramifications of composting pet waste. Neither burial nor composting could kill the hazardous pathogens within the poop.

In fact, E. coli , salmonella, and even roundworms were found to survive for up to four years in the soil! Source: greenmatters.com

 So is it, or isn’t it safe to compost dog poo? Here’s what our experts say:

“Dog faeces can be used in compost, but I recommend using precaution”, says Dr Michelle Birch DVM of Safe Hounds Pet.  “If compost is done correctly, it will reach high enough temperatures to kill most parasites and bacteria. The trick to ensure the compost is safe is to provide all of the material to the appropriate temperature to kill the pathogens that may affect humans and other pets.”

“But If the compost material does not thoroughly reach appropriate temperatures, then the number of pathogens is significantly reduced but not eliminated.” she continues.

“I recommend using a five-turn method for compost in which dog faeces are being used to ensure adequate control of intestinal parasites and bacteria. Ensure the compost material reaches a temperature of 130 degrees F for three days, then turn the pile. Repeat this process for five turns to ensure the entire material reaches the appropriate temperature.”

Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Pet News Daily says, “When done correctly, composting is safe and a great way to keep dog poop out of landfills. In fact, composting is a recommended way to handle dog poop in Alaska due to the large amounts of feces produced by sled dog kennels.”

“The possibility of pathogen transmission is the biggest concern when composting feces of any type. As long as the temperature within the compost reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a few days, potential pathogens like bacteria and parasites will be destroyed. 

Jennifer also points out that as you will be handling the dog poop before it is fully composted it is important that you only include feeces from healthy dogs who are regularly dewormed or screened for intestinal parasites. A sick dog’s feces should not be added to the compost pile.

The UDSA published this guide on composting dog poop.

So if you want to make compost, remember never put it on any vegetables you are growing in your garden, or near anywhere that children are playing. The best way to compost, is a special dog poop composter designed specifically for the job like the Doggie Dooley.

How to Properly Compost Dog Poop At Home

How to Properly Compost Dog Poop At Home

  1. What you need

    Creating compost comprises of two parts – the nitrogen “wet” material (in this case, dog poop, and vegetable waste), and carbon “dry” materials (straw, hay, shredded newspaper, sawdust).

    You’ll first need 2 composting bins, one containing the composting materials and one to actively compost with.

    You’ll also need a compost thermometer to measure the temperature, and a water supply (preferably warm water).

  2. Drill holes in one bin

    Drill 12 holes into the bin that is going to hold the compost, and place in a dry, sunny area.

  3. Add dog poop to the bin

    .As you do, make sure you add the carbon materials in. The rule here is for every 2 shovels of dog poop, you add 1 shovel of “dry” material”.

  4. Mix thoroughly!

    Use your shovel to mix up the poop and dry material thoroughly.

  5. Every few days add soil

    Every few days, you can add a shovel of soil from the garden, or old compost (if any) into the bin
    to help speed up the process.

  6. Add a little water

    Add a little water, and make sure that the compost bin is damp
    , like a damp sponge.

  7. When the bin is full

    Once the bin is full, cover it and let the microbes from the soil do its work.

  8. Check the temperature once a week

    Check the temperature of the compost. Make sure it reached 63 degrees C /145 degrees F. When it starts lowering (typically after 2 weeks), turn the pile over.

  9. Turn every two weeks

    After another 2 weeks check the temperature and make sure it’s over 63 degrees C /145 degrees F, when it lowers again, turn the pile. Do this three more times to ensure that all the compost has been turned and reached the correct temperature.

  10. Ready to use on flower beds in three months

    After 3 months your compost will be ready to use. You can use it for vegetation – just make sure it’s not for consumable vegetation. There are parasites in dog poop that can live in the soil for years (such as tapeworms, E.Coli bacteria). But if you’re using it to grow flowers or a little bit of wood on your property, it’s completely fine.

Thanks to Peter at the Doggie Training Center for his input on the the composting guide.

Can I bury dog poop in my backyard?

If you want to, you can bury dog poop in your backyard, but you should only do this if you have a special compost bin, something like the Doggie Dooley. Amazon sells this canine waste disposal system which is a kind of mini septic tank. You bury it in your garden and then can drop the poop in. You need to regularly add some water and enzymes to break down the poop. If you want to use poop bags with a composter, then use special compostable ones, more on that in a minute.

Is there a dog poop collection service?

Surprisingly this does exist. Poop 911 offers this service in the US and in London we have the Poo Patrol who will supply the bin and come and empty it for you!

To find out if you have a poop collection service near you just Google ‘household dog poop collection service near me’.

The Poo Bag Showdown

Biodegradable Poo Bags

Biodegradable poop bags are the way to go if you want a poop bag that will break down, but it can be tricky to find a brand that is actually not made with plastic, despite what the advertising claims.

Many biodegradable dog waste bags contain cornstarch or some similar ingredient which is natural and non-toxic to humans, but you need to check the small print. But in order to give the bag some strength cornstarch is mixed with resin derived from plants, vegetable oils, and compostable polymers, which should break down completely under the right conditions. However, some biodegradable bags just degrade into smaller pieces of plastic and take hundreds of years to do that so they still pollute the world and our oceans.

Beco Pet’s biodegradable poop bags however are made using the latest eco-technology and materials which makes them a great choice for this category.

biodegradable poop bags
Beco Pets biodegradable poop bags.

Compostable Poo Bags

What’s the difference? You may ask. These bags are also usually made from 100% cornstarch. One of the many benefits of cornstarch is its fantastically low carbon footprint. Not only does it degrades gracefully and leaves no trace, but it also acts as a renewable resource. 

You might wonder if a 100% cornstarch only poo bag is strong enough to hold a giant sloppy poop, so did I. So I filled these two bags with water to see what happened. They both did great you’ll be pleased to know.

These compostable poo bags from Beco completely biodegrade back to their natural elements. They are OK Compost TUV Home Compostable, ASTM 6400 and EN13432 certified.

compostable poop bags
Compostable Poop Bags from Beco Pets

Fetch-it are another brand who make 100% compostable bags which are leak and split proof. They also donate 1% of their profit from their sales to their three chosen charities.

“In order to create a good compost there must be a 2:1 ratio of sawdust (or other carbon rich materials such as chopped straw, fallen leaves) to dog poop. A long-stemmed thermometer is necessary to monitor compost temperature. You will also need a shovel or a fork for turning the compost. The temperature of a compost mixture is very important as this reflects the level of microbial activity. The centre is the hottest so insert the thermometer towards the centre, repeat this in several places. Temperatures in fresh compost rise quickly up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and decline slowly. Declining temperatures means it’s time to turn the compost. The compost must reach 145 degrees to destroy pathogens. “

FETCH.IT bags are certified suitable for home composting and in a good compost we would expect it to fully degrade within a year.” Kiki, Fetch-it.

Fetch It Compostable Poop Bags

Scented Poo Bags?

Help keep the nasty niff of poo at bay with these mint-scented poop bags from Beco. They are infused with spearmint oil from plants sustainably harvested in the UK. They do smell great and make your pocket fresh too! I love them.

mint scented poop bags
Mint Scented Dog Poop Bags from Beco Pets – they smell amazing!

Gadgets for picking up Dog Poop

If you are like me and gag when you get a whiff of dog poop, you definitely don’t want to get your hands anywhere near the disgusting stuff. Why not invest in a handy pooper scooper gadget like these two? Or you can feed your dog on a raw diet, and they’ll poop out white chalky doo-doo instead!

DogBuddy Pooper Scooper

If you want to grab a poo quickly without touching the offending item, this is for you. By placing your poo bag over the jaws, you can safely scoop, knot the bag, and dispose of it. With an expandable container this is suitable for poops of all sizes from Chihuahua to St Bernard and everything in between.

Pik-a-Poo One Handed Poop Scoop

This one-handed poop scoop makes poo collecting a joy. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it does make it easier. Battery operated the jaws do a good job of scraping up the poop even from grass and gravel. It makes a messy job much easier, especially at arm’s length, so ideal if the smell is enough to make you gag.

Tools for Carrying Fully Loaded Dog Poop Bags

Ever been chatting to someone and conscious that you have in one hand a big stinky bag of poop that you wave about now and then? Well, check these out. These are my two favourite inventions for dealing with a used poo bag that give you back both your hands for other important tasks like throwing balls and climbing over stiles, as well as gesticulating wildly whilst having a natter.

The Dicky Bag – Bag it, Stash it, Seal it

I’ve always loved Dicky Bags invented by Mandy Davies. These practical neoprene bags are waterproof, lightweight and importantly, keep the smell in!

Designed, manufactured and engineered in Cornwall, Dicky Bags can be clipped via a carabiner to your belt, lead, or rucksack. They have a compartment in the lid that stores your poop bags and a renewable fragrance disk to help keep the poop stink to a minimum. The clever design means you can bag it, stash it and seal the poop in the container without any fuss.

The Doo-Kee – Knot it & Slot it

Okay, so you still have to have a poop bag swinging by your side, but this cool gadget means you don’t have to actually have the used bag in your hand! 

Another British invention from Somerset; is there a mega poo problem in the South West of England we ask ourselves? This simple device clips to your lead or dog walking bag and you slide your knotted poo bag into the slit on the Doo-Kee and it holds it securely until you can dispose of it.

doo kee
The Doo-Kee in action

Dog Poop Disposal FAQs

When it comes to dog poop, there’s a lot of misinformation and myths floating around. That’s why I decided to create this blog post for you. Here are a few more popular questions people have about disposing of dog poop:

Does dog poop go in compost or garbage?

Dog poop goes in the garbage. Dog poo is not supposed to be put into a compost pile since it contains all sorts of nasty parasites and bacteria that can harm a person or animals if they eat it. In fact, there are certain places where city ordinances actually prohibit people from composting dog waste because of these risks.

The good news is that many pet owners have started using special biodegradable bags for picking up after their pets (they get recycled instead). They’re usually available at pet stores or online and come with handy doggy scooper attachments to make clean-up easy as pie. You can also buy natural enzymes that perform an enzymatic reaction, converting organic matter into soil-like material.

Is it illegal to put dog poop in the garbage in the US?

In some US states, disposing of dog feces is illegal in solid waste landfills because the naturally occurring bacteria and pathogens present within a landfill can cause serious damage to the environment and humans who may come into contact with it not to mention global warming gases.

Is dog poop considered hazardous waste?

According to the EPA, all faeces from pets, including dogs and cats, are considered non-hazardous waste if they are disposed of in a landfill. But keep in mind that dog poop can still pollute water supplies if not disposed of properly. Pet owners should always carry an eco-friendly poop bag with them just in case their pet has an accident while they’re out and about.

How long does it take for dog poop to decompose when buried?

It takes approximately one month for dog poop to decompose when buried, and it can take up to one year for sanitary landfills to absorb the waste. Regardless of where you bury the poop, there’s still bacteria present that will break down its organic matter. The best way to dispose of pet waste is by picking up after your dogs and disposing of it properly.

Bag it and Dispose of It Responsibly

So there you have it, all you need to know about disposing of your doggy poo-poo in a safe and responsible manner.  Whatever disposal method you choose, we thank you. The dog poo-blem is a global issue and in a recent study Naples was found to have the biggest problem and in Montpelier, you can get fined up to €500 for not cleaning up after your dog. Do you have a poop problem where you live? Make sure you’re doing your bit to keep the world a healthier place.