Dog Waste Disposal

The Omnivores Dilemma

North Vancouver dog sign

Dog waste disposal - we're talking poop, feces, excrement, dung - is among the least pleasant chores a dog owner faces. Second only perhaps to such delightful jobs as expressing Fido's anal glands.

This daily task is billed as one fraught with danger. Despite the fact that a synonym for poop is fertilizer, we're told dog poop in the garden is out and ditto for dog poop in the compost pile. Poop-phobia runs rampant. In the interests of super safety most of us carefully pick up the poop in a plastic bag which may or may not be biodegradable. We then toss it in a second plastic bag and put it out with the garbage destined for the landfill. Surely there is a better way.

What's the Risk?

First, your vegetarian pet's poop is considered safe to compost and to use that compost on any garden you like. The poop and bedding changes of hamsters and bunnies can be added straight into the compost bin.

But My Dog is Vegetarian
I spent a week with Spirit - a vegetarian Great Dane cross. He timed his visits to me and all neighborhood meat eaters to coincide with aromas of bacon or steak cooking. His patience paid off - with a plate of meat scraps almost every day.

Most compost information will tell you not to add dog and cat manure to your compost. The reason is that omnivores and carnivores both carry parasites that can be transferred to humans. The main parasite associated with dog is the round worm Toxocara canis and with cats is the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. We can be the accidental hosts of parasites and they can make us sick if we do.

Pregnant women are warned not to handle the kitty litter. This is because, while symptoms of infection are mild to non existent in adults, in a pregnant woman, infected for the first time while pregnant, the parasite can migrate to the baby and cause serious birth defects. If she is already infected the risk is minimal. About a third of us are infected with rates in tropical areas up to 100%.

Safe Ecological Options for Dog and Cat Waste Disposal

Happily it is not necessary to wrap cat and dog waste in plastic for disposal. There are three main categories of dog waste disposal available to the average pet owner.

When I talk about this I am talking about you handling your own pet's waste. I am not suggesting that you empty the dog poop trash can at the doggy park or collect the poop from the vet. You work with your pets poop - and use it in whatever way to grow your garden. To be extra safe use this material in an ornamental section of your garden and if you are sharing the bounty with friends suggest they do the same.

Here is the awful truth. IF you or anyone in your family is going to catch anything it will be from direct contact with your pet or their manure. It is very unlikely that it will come from finished compost, the use of a septic type system or using a bokashi fermentation process.

Eco Options for Pet and Dog Waste Disposal Include:

  • Composting - both at home composting or commercial level composting are options to consider.
  • Doggie Dooley - the doggy dooley or a similar do it yourself system might be a good choice - provided you have appropriate soil and water table conditions.
  • Bokashi System for Pet Waste - a fermentation composting system born in Asia and in use there for food waste for centuries.

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