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Is Dog Poop Bad for the Environment? Vet-Approved Eco-Friendly Solutions & FAQ

Cassidy Sutton

By Cassidy Sutton

dog poop_xtotha_shutterstock

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It’s no secret that Americans love dogs. In 2021, 69 million households in the US owned at least one dog, which doesn’t include other pet species. This makes dogs the most popular pet in the country.

COVID-19 only propelled everyone to adopt more dogs, especially during quarantine. The term “puppy-pocalypse” described many vet offices scrambling to vaccinate all the new furry family members. With all these dogs, you know there’s a lot of dog poop. But the truth is that dog poop isn’t great for the environment. However, there are solutions to this problem.

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Why Dog Poop Is Bad for the Environment

Many dog owners are careful about picking up their dog’s waste and throwing it away. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of dog owners that don’t, and this is where the problem begins.

Dog waste can contain pathogens and parasites that can spread to water sources, other animals, and humans. In addition, rain and snowmelt can wash dog feces into rivers and streams, disturbing our water supply. It also affects surrounding wildlife, especially fish and aquatic life.

Many of the parasites and worms found in dog feces are zoonotic, meaning that they can be transmitted to humans. These parasites can also survive in dog feces for a long time.

For example, Roundworms can survive in the environment for weeks and sometimes even months. The feces decompose, but the parasite remains in the soil. Any human or animal could work in the soil and accidentally ingest the Roundworm eggs.

Other diseases that can be spread from dog waste include:
  • Giardia spp.
  • Tapeworm
  • Hookworm
  • E. coli
  • Salmonella

It’s not like you’ll ingest a parasite anytime you handle your dog’s poop. However, with the disproportionate number of dogs in the country, it’s important that dog owners properly clean up after their dogs to avoid contamination.

big dog trying to poop
Image Credit: Khaligo, Pixabay

Is It Okay to Leave Dog Poop in the Woods?

Even a responsible dog owner who takes their dog hiking or camping sometimes leaves their dog’s business in the woods. After all, a bear poops in the woods, so why can’t a dog? Isn’t it the same thing?

Not exactly.

The difference lies in their diet. Bears don’t eat commercial dog food. They eat a variety of items like fish, berries, nuts, insects, and native plants. Bear scat acts as manure for the forest floor. This goes for other wild animals in the forest as well.

Domestic dogs don’t belong to the ecosystem that makes a forest thrive. They also don’t eat a diet found in a wild ecosystem.

Commercial dog food has added nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients are present in the dog’s poop and have a negative impact on the environment. Excess nutrients create conditions for invasive plant species and algae to take over, throwing the entire ecosystem out of its delicate balance.

It’s always best to follow the Leave No Trace principles if you live near the woods or plan to take your dog hiking.

Where Does Dog Poop Go After Being Picked Up?

Dog owners want the most user-friendly option when it comes to animal waste. We often just want to pick it up, toss it, and forget about it. Small plastic bags and conveniently-located trash cans make it easy for dog owners to clean up after their dogs.

But there’s a dirty truth to stinky dog doo—it’s a huge contributor to methane gas and adds more plastic bags to landfills than we want to admit.

It’s not a good idea to stop picking up your dog’s poop just to cut back on plastics, but we also don’t want to contribute to the growing waste crisis. So, what’s the solution?

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The 4 Eco-Friendly Solutions for Cleaning Up Your Dog’s Waste

Thankfully, there are four eco-friendly options for cleaning up dog poop. These options won’t work for every lifestyle, but just about any dog owner can utilize one of these options.

1. Eco-Friendly Dog Bags

Dog with Poop Bag
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Biodegradable dog bags are the best option for dog owners who want to positively impact the environment. Biodegradable bags are great because, in the right conditions, these bags decompose into the earth.

You have to be careful when selecting a biodegradable dog bag. According to the FTC, many companies mislead consumers into believing their product decomposes when the reality is that it never does.

Our first pick for biodegradable dog waste bags is BioBag Standard Pet Waste Bags.

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Perfect for renters and homeowners
  • Not all bags are truly biodegradable

2. Composting

compost for poop
Image Credit: Antranias, Pixabay

There are mixed feelings about composting dog poop. Some people say you should never do it, and other people think it’s a great idea. The truth is that you can compost dog waste as long as it’s composted properly.

A proper compost pile needs to reach an internal temperature of 160°F to kill all of the bad stuff found in dog poop. As long as you meet the requirements, you can successfully compost your dog’s poop.

The biggest con with composting is that it won’t work for renters or apartment dwellers. It also requires a bit of upkeep.

  • Naturally disposes of dog waste
  • Cheap
  • Not suitable for apartment dwellers
  • Requires upkeep

3. In-Ground Disposing

Doggie Dooley Septic Style Dog Waste Disposal System
Image Credit: Doggie Dooley, Chewy

In-ground disposal is another option that limits the need for plastic dog bags without contributing to the overflowing landfill. This option won’t work for apartment dwellers and some house renters since you’ll need to dig a hole in your backyard. But if you can, try the Doggie Dooley Disposal System. It’s an affordable septic tank for dog waste.

Use the Doggie Dooley Waste Terminator Tablets to help break down the dog feces for added benefit. This also requires a doggy pooper scooper.

  • Naturally disposes of dog waste
  • Little upkeep
  • Upfront costs
  • Requires manual labor
  • Not suitable for renters

4. Flush It

flushing down the toilet
Image Credit: Winnond, Shutterstock

You can flush your dog’s waste with a flushable dog waste bag, depending on where you live. This option isn’t the most eco-friendly since it wastes water and it is not possible if you don’t have a flushable bag. You’ll have to dispose of a plastic bag anyway, so why flush? Still, if the municipal sewage guidelines in your area says it’s okay, consider flushing your dog’s poo.

  • Affordable
  • Good for renters and homeowners
  • Wastes water
  • Must use flushable waste bags
  • Not every area allows dog waste to be flushed

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Final Thoughts

As dog owners, we have to handle a lot of stinky poops. It’s part of having a pet around. As much as we love our dogs, we have to face the fact that dog poop isn’t good for the environment.

There is still light on the horizon, though. We have options for disposing of the waste available to us, regardless of our housing type. These strategies may not solve the bigger issue, but they give us time to find a better solution for tomorrow.

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Featured Image Credit: Xtotha, Shutterstock

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