The short answer is yes, dog waste is compostable, but there are necessary precautions you must take first to make sure you're composting the waste properly.
Recently we published a dog blog on reasons why you should pick up your dog's poop. And the reasons are many. When dog waste is not cleaned up properly it will pollute the ground and surface water, attract flies/pests, create an unsanitary environment for dogs and other animals, which can transmit parasites and other infectious diseases back to humans.
The EPA estimates that the average dog creates about ⅓ of a pound of waste per day - or about 275 pounds per year! Composting your dog’s waste is an inexpensive method for disposing of this waste and it can enhance the environment as well as reduce the amount of waste being added into landfills.
There is a huge misconception that dog waste is not compostable. It very much is - it's just NOT safe to use in compost that will be used for consumable vegetation. Parasites and bacteria can live in dog waste including E. coli and salmonell along with several types of worms like ringworm and tapeworm. They can live in the soil for years so it’s best to keep your dogs waste away from your gardens or from where your animals can get to it. According to the EPA dog waste is a safe soil additive for revegetation and landscaping when it is composted properly.
You might be wondering, what is composting anyway?
Composting is the controlled breakdown or degradation of organic material into a product known as humus. Composting dog waste is a natural process that requires water, organic matter, air, microbes, and a little human intervention.
Benefits of Composting Dog Waste
Each year, tons of pet waste is thrown into trash cans and ends up in sanitary landfills, by composting we can reduce the amount of waste in landfills.
According to the EPA composting can reduce the volume of dog waste by 50 percent.
When you compost dog poop it becomes a nutrient that will improve your yard and trees. If the soil in your yard is lacking organic matter no store-bought fertilizer will get you the results you are looking for in your lawn. However, when you produce good compost you can create a quality soil additive that will improve the condition and fertility in your soil.
If you compost the dog poop correctly you can actually destroy the harmful pathogens that are found in dog waste.
Composting lessens the chances that dog poop will pollute groundwater and streams.
This compost can be used as mulch material and can be a good source of plant nutrients for your potted plants and garden. But, remember it should not be used on plants you intended to consume.
How To Start Composting Dog Waste
When you begin composting you will need some nitrogen-rich materials and some carbon-rich materials. Nitrogen materials are your “wet” materials, dog waste, green grass clippings and vegetable waste work best. Carbon materials that can be used are things like sawdust, straw or hay, and shredded newspaper.
You will also need two bins, one to contain the composting materials and one to actively compost in, a shovel to turn the compost, a long-stemmed thermometer, and a water supply. Water from a garden hose is okay however, you may want to let the water sit in the sun to get warm before adding it to compost. Cold water will lower the temperature of the compost and we want it to stay warm.
- Drill holes in the side of your trash bin that will hold the compost. Put the bin in a sunny, dry area.
- As you add dog pop to the bin, cover it with a shovel full of carbon materials. For every two shovels full of dog waste, add at least one shovel full of sawdust or other carbon material. Mix thoroughly after every time you add.
- Every few days you can add a shovel full of old compost on to the pile to speed up digestion. If you are just beginning then you can use soil from your garden.
- Make sure to keep the pile moist! You should add water in small amounts so they compost has the texture of a wet sponge.
- When your bin is full you should cover it so the microbes can get to work.
- Now you can start taking the temperature of the compost. When the temperature starts to decline, usually after about two weeks, you should turn the pile.
- Cure your finished compost for several months before using it.
This fact sheet from the US department of agriculture gives super helpful advice and professional tips for composting dog waste.
Composting with Doggy Do Good
As you know, our Doggy Do Good® premium pet waste bags are 38% vegetable-based and a great alternative to regular polyethylene plastic bags, which are not compostable and take decades to break down. So feel free to use our bags in your home compost because they are made in part from corn starch (an annually renewable resource) and other bio-based proprietary components. When composted properly, our poop bags are safer for the environment and will break down completely.
So if you choose to compost, and use a poop bag when you are out for a walk, or cleaning up your yard - be sure that poop bag is Certified Home Compostable. That's the Doggy Do Good® Difference!