Don’t worry, I’ll spare you from having to look at pictures of dog poop, despite this blogs title! It may not be the best part of owning pets, but hey, poop happens! Dog owners, responsible ones at least, have to figure out the best way to dispose of their furry friends’ waste. Composting the feces of herbivores (rabbit, cows, horses, etc.) is pretty common place. But did you know that it’s possible to compost the poop of carnivores as well?
Feeling a bit skeptical?
I don’t really blame you. Before getting dogs myself, I never thought much about how to dispose of the waste of carnivores. Dog waste, when disposed of improperly (or not at all) can cause a number of issues. Dog waste can spread parasites and bacteria, and is bad for the environment.
For a long time, I always just assumed that only the poop of herbivores could be safely composted. Afterall, when you hear people talk about using poop as compost for their gardens, it’s usually something like rabbit or cow manure that’s used.
Apparently, composting doggy doo is very similar to composting other things. The secret is that you want the compost to heat up to the magical number of at least 145*f, for at least several days. This temperature is required to kill off pathogens naturally present in your dog’s waste. And you’ll want to add other compostables into the mix, as sources of carbon and nitrogen. Things like grass clippings, and vegetable waste, along with your dogs poop, can serve as sources of nitrogen. For carbon, you’ll want to add things like stray or hay, sawdust, shredded newspaper, and/or leaves.
For anyone interested in composting pet waste, but not up for creating their compost bin from scratch, you can purchase already made dog doo composters.
But why, you ask?
Composting pet waste keeps the poo, and other pollutants such as the plastic bags you use to pick it up, out of the landfill. It turns your pet’s waste into something that, if done properly, can be used as a soil additive. Many of the commercially sold dog poop composters are meant to be buried underground, making them less of an eyesore.
Can you actually use composted dog poop to fertilize plants?
There haven’t been a lot of studies, yet, that look at whether composts heat up enough to kill the eggs of certain parasites, such as roundworms. Because of this, it’s recommended that you use composted dog poop on decorative plants only. It shouldn’t be used on plants grown for consumption. And it’s still important to ensure your compost heats up to the required temperature. You want to eliminate as many pathogens as possible. If you want to compost pet waste for environmental reasons, but don’t want to actually use the resulting compost, it can be buried instead of used for gardening.
Want to learn more? In 1991, the Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, with assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, worked with dog kennel owners in Alaska to study composting as a means of dealing with dog waste in northern climates. The results of that study can be seen here (PDF file), including some pretty in depth instructions on how to compost dog feces, a trouble shooting guide, and even instructions of how you can make your own dog waste compost bin!
What do you think?
Conveniently, these days you can purchase decomposable dog poop bags. They make composting your dogs droppings even easier. The entire bag will break down and can be thrown directly into your compost bin.
Would you ever consider composting your pet’s waste? I try to be as environmentally friendly as I can. I actually do like the idea of composting my dogs feces. But as long as I’ve had dogs we’ve lived in rentals. I kind of have a feeling that most landlords wouldn’t be too excited about the idea of dog poop compost bins on their property. So, thus far, I’ve resorted to more conventual means of disposing of my two dogs’ doo. I’ll have to revisit this topic again in the future, once we own our own property. Even if you decide that composting your pet’s waste isn’t for you, remember that it’s still important to always pick up after your pets!