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Can You Compost Dog Poop? What You Need To Know

Dry Dog Poop

Any dog owner will tell you that one of the most unpleasant things about owning a dog is the smell in the backyard if the poop is not picked up regularly. Not only does it smell bad, but this can create unsanitary conditions for the animal, considering the parasites and bacteria that could be present. The other problem is the smell from your garbage can until garbage day—but there is a solution!

If you are already composting, why not add your dog poop to the pile the next time you turn it? Once it’s composted, dog waste enhances the environment rather than filling up landfills. There is a caveat to composting dog poop, though. If your compost is used for anything that is eaten, it’s not recommended to use dog waste due to the bacteria and parasites that could potentially live through the composting process.

Even if you’ve never composted before and you’re interested in starting, we’ll give you some quick tips so you can get started on that revegetation or landscaping project you’ve wanted to do.

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Benefits of Composting Dog Poop

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average dog creates around 274 pounds of waste annually. Most of this ends up in a landfill, or if it’s not picked up, it gets washed away by the rain and can pollute water systems with harmful pathogens. When composted properly, most of these pathogens are killed—it’s still not safe to use on edible vegetation in the event the germs aren’t killed, though.

Another benefit is that instead of the potential pollution, the dog waste will improve soil quality and help the environment by creating nutrient-rich mulch. Use this mulch as lawn fertilizer, potting soil mix, or in the garden.

What You’ll Need to Compost Dog Poop

Dry Decompost
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Because of the dangers of composting dog poop, it’s not as simple as throwing it on your regular compost pile. Keep in mind a couple of things: you’ll need separate piles if you have compost for a vegetable garden, and it’s recommended you use a hot compost heap to ensure all pathogens are killed.

Assuming you are starting from scratch, here’s a list of supplies you’ll need for proper dog poop composting:

  • Nitrogen-rich materials such as dog waste, fresh grass clippings, vegetable scraps, etc.
  • Carbon-rich materials such as sawdust, shredded newspaper, straw, etc.
  • Composting thermometer.
  • Shovel or fork for turning compost, unless you are using a spinning composter.
  • Composting bin. You can either build your own or purchase one. If you go the purchase route, some fancy composting bins are available that make it easy to do.

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How long does dog poop take to decompose?

If left alone on the lawn, dog poop will typically take around 9 weeks to decompose. Even after it is decomposed, it will leave a dead spot on your grass, and there will be harmful pathogens left on your grass that are dangerous for your pet and humans.

If you go the composting route, it takes 4–8 weeks, depending on the pile. However, composting it will get it off your lawn quickly before it can cause any damage and will leave a lot fewer pathogens behind.

How hot does the compost pile have to be?

Dog poop contains pathogens such as E. coli or roundworms and needs a steady temperature of 165°F (73°C) for at least five days to ensure all these germs are killed. This can be difficult to achieve with many home composting systems, which is why it’s important not to use it on anything you plan to eat.

Can you flush the poop instead?

If you don’t feel like going through the effort of composting dog waste but are still interested in a more environmentally friendly approach to disposing of it, then flushing it is a good option. Most city water treatment centers are set up to deal with the pathogens present. However, if you are using a septic system, it’s not advised to flush the waste because those systems will not be able to kill the bacteria and parasites effectively.

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If you’re looking for a way to help the environment and keep your dog’s waste out of the landfill, then composting is a great option. It does add the need for other precautions compared to regular vegetable or yard waste. If you’re reading different articles, many tell you not to compost dog poop. These answers are almost always based on a home compost pile not being hot enough to kill all the pathogens. However, if composted properly, your dog’s poop will give you high-quality mulch to inject new life into your lawn or flowerbed.


Featured Image Credit: Bass001, Shutterstock

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