Is dog poop compostable?

If you’re a composter (yay! go, you!) you’re probably bristling about the idea of tossing in dog poop. Here’s the thing: Dog poop is compostable BUT it needs special treatment. You definitely don’t want to scoop the poop and toss it on your regular compost pile. Dog poop contains pathogens that can contaminate a regular pile that you don’t want to then use in your garden.

Instead, there are two good ways to compost dog poop:

  1. Purchase a specific pet waste composter. The Doggie Dooley is arguably the most popular. You dig a big hole, “plant” the system, then you add your dog’s poop and a digester to break it all down. A few key points: It needs to be buried far from any edible gardens, and it needs to be far from natural water sources. That makes it challenging for many people because it requires a specific yard. However, it’s quick, easy, and effective once installed.
  2. DIY composting. This PDF from the USDA has literally everything you need to start composting dog waste, including some of the risks, a ton of additional tips, and even a printable tracking sheet to monitor your compost pile. Even though their thorough advice provides everything you need to know, it’s important to remember that this compost still can’t be used on crops meant for consumption. This is just for soil, decorative beds, and so on.

Can you flush dog poop?

According to the EPA, flushing dog poop might just be the most eco-friendly way to handle it. However, there are concerns about wastewater treatment plants not being able to process the pathogens found in dog poop. The EPA claims that dog poop is no worse than human poop.

I strongly suggest you Google your town’s policies or give ’em a call. I googled my county’s policies, and they actually had a fact sheet readily available that suggested flushing the poop (their top suggestion) or burying it in your yard with specific instructions on how to do it. Barring those options, the third recommendation was to scoop and toss.

Of course, there is a drawback: you can’t flush the bag, so you either need to scoop into a bag on your walk, then dump it into the toilet to flush (and toss the bag, of course) or scoop it from your yard in toilet tissue, which… could be… problematic for the handler.

So, what about scooping in a biodegradable bag to toss?

That’s a better option certainly than scooping in a plastic bag where it’ll just sit forever in a landfill, but… it might not be much better. In fact, several years ago the FTC warned of mislabeled poop bags citing 20 manufacturers for labeling bags as biodegradable that weren’t.


Bottom line: Biodegradable poop bags are a convenient option, which sometimes you just need. If you’re out backpacking or walking or visiting friends, you might not be in position to compost or flush the waste. In those cases, a biodegradable bag made from corn is the best possible solution. And, TBH, it’s the one we rely on in our house. Check out Earth Rated bags for our top pick.

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