Yes, composting dog poop is possible because it contains specific nutrients that will strengthen your compost. After all, leaving dog poop behind is a no-no because it will be an environmental hazard and could reintroduce bacteria into pets – especially your dog!
Dog waste is usually mixed with other organic items that you have in your composting bin, such as grass clippings, dried plants, and the like. Most pet owners who keep these compost bins also add sawdust.
Is It Safe To Compost Dog Poop?
Yes, it is generally safe to compost dog poop unless you don’t know where the dog poop came from. It’s hard to tell if dog waste came from a sick canine and that is dangerous to make into compost.
Another warning is that dog poop cannot be used as compost for a veggie or fruit garden. If you will use it for flower beds and ornamentals then it’s okay to use them.
However, when it comes to composting dog poop since it contains a couple of harmful bacteria, you’ll need to maintain its temperature from 50 to 60 degrees at best.
Why should I compost dog poop?
There are many benefits to composting dog poop, such as the following:
- You keep the environment safe from toxins. Raw dog poop is filled with pathogens that could go into streams, rivers, and other waterways. It could cause pollution where we don’t want it, especially on vegetation. No one wants to eat substance from dog poop…yuck!
- When you compost dog poop, it benefits the soil. Dog waste is a good soil strengthening additive that’s good for landscaping. All that matters is that you compost it properly so that it won’t become a threat to your plants. Do remember that any composting method naturally takes time to finish.
- Local cleaners don’t have to pick up your dog’s poop. You’re lessening the load on your street sweepers when it comes to cleaning the surroundings. Transporting dog poop to a disposal facility takes a lot of time and effort. Instead of doing that, composting at home will reduce the need to toss doggy waste into a landfill.
- Your plants will thank you. We did mention above that additives from dog waste that has been properly composted will become great soil nourishment. This will benefit plants in the long run. However, we still stress using dog poop compost only on non-edible plants, just to be safe, especially for home composting.
Composting Dog Waste—Step By Step
While composting dog waste sounds like a tedious task, it can be done. Generally, you can use either of these two methods for your dog poop compost:
In this method, you put all the materials together and mix them in a single go. What we like about this technique most of all is that decomposition doesn’t start until all of the items inside are properly mixed. Hot compost can be achieved with this step due to the combination of water, carbon, and dog poop being simultaneously mixed.
A small downside to this method is added gag factor, which can be remedied when you mix your dog poop with sawdust in a 2:1 ratio.
Using this method requires patience since you are adding the dog poop as you collect them from the yard or the street sidewalk. It will result in a less pungent smell because of the combination of dog poop and carbon material.
The decomposition won’t happen until you add water and turn it over, so make sure that your compost pile is dry when you add your dog waste. This method is the more popular way of the two.
Steps in composting dog waste
Here are the general steps when you want to compost dog poop:
- Pick an area with a lot of sunlight. Consider a higher place where the sun will most likely shine on it to generate enough heat. It should be far away from your dog quarters, especially if you have nursing or pregnant dogs at home.
Moreover, if your yard is slightly slanted, it should be away from the dog quarters’ direction so that the runoff won’t get in there.
- Start adding your dog waste. As mentioned above, put in dog waste in a ratio of 2:1 together with sawdust. The sawdust will act as your carbon source in this case. You can use a simple garden shovel to measure your mix and then combine them thoroughly. Don’t forget to use gloves and a face mask to avoid contamination (and the bad smell!).
- Add water slowly. Most people don’t know how much water to put in most compost setups. A good rule of thumb is that the mixture should be similar to that of a sponge that has been wrung out. Don’t make it too wet.
- Keep mixing and adding. Ideally, you would want compost that’s about 2 to 3 feet high depending on how much material you have (and the size of your bin). Stop adding materials once the bin is already full.
- Cover your compost. Once you are finally done with mixing and slightly watering your dog poop compost, it’s time to cover it up. This will initiate the process of microbes breaking down the material.
Inside, the dog poop and other materials should be exposed to a very hot temperature for the decomposition to take place. That’s a sign that the microbes are doing their job.
- Monitor your compost temperature. Use a thermometer that’s specifically only for the compost to avoid cross-contamination. It helps if you have a checklist to monitor the temperature day and night. The compost is ready to be turned once the temperature lowers inside of the compost bin.
- Begin turning. A compost pile should be ready to be turned in after 2 weeks or so. As mentioned above, make sure that the compost temperature drops before it is allowed to be turned. This will help raise the temperature inside once more so that the decomposition becomes evenly distributed.
Turning the dog waste compost takes time and it will take a lot of cycles. Continue this process and keep waiting for the compost until the temperature doesn’t go high anymore. This means that the compost is ready for curing.
- Curing process. To stabilize the pH levels of your compost, you have to cure it. Curing can take somewhere between a few months to a year, so be patient.
Different ways in composting dog poop
There’s more than one way to compost – what we mentioned above is just the basic way of doing it. Here are other ways that you can safely compost your dog poop in your backyard:
- Use a compost pit. This requires a lot of digging effort but the result is that you won’t need to buy a separate bin anymore. A compost pit usually has a 1 x 1-meter measurement but it depends on how much compost you want to process inside. Make sure it is properly covered.
- Buy a custom dog poop compost bin. There are many stores out there that now sell compost bins that are meant for dog poop. You can use it to process our above-mentioned step-by-step process.
- Vermicomposting. This process involves worms that you have to grow separately from a different bin. Then, you can introduce it to your dog poop compost and the magic (science) happens.
Other green ways to disposing dog poop
Okay, so composting dog poop might not be the best idea for all households, especially if you have no compost bin and if you don’t have enough sunlight or heat generation around your home. Worry not – you can still dispose of dog poop the green way. Here’s how:
Flush doggy poop down the toilet
Just like human poop, dog waste can be safely flushed down the toilet – but don’t include the poop bag! Most of these bags are not biodegradable and will end up as plastic waste in the sewage. That’s because most dog poop bags are made from polyethylene, which won’t break down in nature.
It also helps to check with your local ordinances and your plumber or installer to know if it is safe to flush dog poop, especially if you’re on a septic tank system.
Look for green bins
If your municipality has green bins that are meant for dog poop disposal, by all means, dump your doggy waste there. If not, you can ask your local waste management authorities as to where dog poop could be safely disposed of without being a hazard to the environment, or you can recommend them to go for a green bin.
Go for a dog waste collection service
Many companies nowadays are offering private dog waste collection services for their locality. This will help not only the pet owners but the locality as well. Usually, they end up in a sewage treatment facility after being collected from a household.
If you live in an urban area and stay in an apartment, condo unit, or townhouse, there’s a chance that a private dog waste collector company is nearby. Look for red collection bins or ask around to see if there’s such as service around you.
Name: Rebecca Tarvin
Discipline: Integrative biology
Degrees: B.A., Biology, Boston University, 2010; Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin,2017
Rebecca Tarvin is broadly interested in integrating studies of natural history with molecular genomics and phylogenetics. Specifically, she aims to elucidate causal genetic mechanisms underlying novel traits, characterize phenotypic diversification at macro and micro-evolutionary scales, and identify factors that promote and constrain biodiversity.
She also likes to write about eco-friendly lifestyle and other material alternatives that are eco-friendly, aside from other ways to save Mother Earth