Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Dog Waste Causes Composting Woes

Because you asked, let’s talk about dog poop.

Hi, I’m Cher, a guest blogger for today. I am the human caregiver of two large dogs and the resident dog-lover in the office where Michelle and I both work.

It’s not a pleasant topic, but one that comes up often. What to do with all that dog poop? We are often asked whether dog feces can be added to backyard compost.

The quick and dirty answer is, no.

I hate waste and it always bothers me to throw anything away – including dog feces. But what bothers me more is the possibility of polluting ground water, spreading diseases and parasites to other dogs, and introducing harmful pathogens to my garden. These are all possibilities if dog feces are added to your backyard compost.

Your backyard compost bin/pile would need to reach certain temperatures to ensure harmful pathogens are killed, and these temperatures are difficult to obtain and maintain.

A quick Google search on “composting dog feces” will provide you with amateur advice and products to do so. I am not a scientist, and do not feel comfortable endorsing any non-scientific advice. So after my research, and careful consideration, I still say don’t do it. It's not worth the risk.

My best advice is to do your part to reduce dog feces by getting your furry friend spayed or neutered. (Fewer dogs = less poop!)


  1. There is a way to compost dog poo you would have to buy the composter and chemicals from dr fosters web sight it gets buried in the ground and the chemical converts it to a liquid works on the same process as a septic tank ..

  2. Thank you for posting this, it's a "pet" peeve of mine. I've had numerous discussions, online and in-person, with folks who swear that it's OK to compost dog waste. The microbes, like the e coli present in our own digestive track, is simply not something you want splashing on your tomatoes or squash.

    It's not just dogs, but any omnivore's waste that should be avoided for "food-grade" compost.

    The caveat to this is if you follow guidelines set out in "The Humanure Handbook," But, even the author recommends against backyard composting dog waste (and human waste) because of just the reason you pointed out: it's just not possible to reach the correct temperature reliably, or for long enough, in the average backyard "slow burning" bin.

    However, there's no problem composting dog manure in a separate pile and using it on ornamental beds. But if you don't want to maintain a separate pile (which should be well removed from the "food-grade" compost pile, and you want to get the dog-doo off the lawn and not throw it away, you can easily just bury a bucket or buy something like a "Doggie Doolie," which is basically a dog poop septic system.

    Just place away from your "food-grade" compost, and downstream of your garden, add enzymes, and then put the doo in. The enzymes control the odor and break down the doo. Just sit back and watch how much faster the grass grows around that spot =)

  3. Feeding your dog high quality food helps reduce their poop as well.

  4. What if you don't end up using your finished compost on a vegetable or flower garden? But just have a compost pile as a way to reduce waste going to the landfill? Could you still put pet waste in the pile then? A coworker is curious... thanks!

    1. We do not recommend dog waste composting just because of the potential that someone may want to use that compost. There are methods online for composting dog waste and I would recommend reviewing those ideas. You should also make sure your compost is not in close proximity to a stream or body of water.

  5. Hi Michelle! While not a composting solution for the dog waste issue, I hope this is a good "green" alternative for interested doggy owners out there. I recently came across this product:
    Since we obviously don't want to A) leave dog poop out in the yard, B) contain it in plastic bags destined for the landfill, or C) contaminate our lovely compost... we can flush it down a drain just like our own poop! Hope this is helpful to someone!
    - Your friend, Sam :)