Dogs poop a lot, but you may not have considered what happens to it over time. How long dog poop takes to decompose depends on your dog's diet as well as the climate you live in. In colder regions, that fecal material might be around for as long as a year before natural decomposition occurs. The heat in warmer areas can eliminate feces in as soon as nine weeks.
That doesn't mean you can't help Mother Nature speed things up — through dog waste composting. There are many ways to do it, it's good for the environment, and it helps fertilize non-edible plants.
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A dog's diet
Dogs are omnivores, meaning they eat animal and plant material. If your dog primarily consumes meat, the feces will take longer to decompose than that of a canine eating food filled with grains.
However, choosing your dog's diet based on fecal decomposition isn't necessarily good for his health. Ask your vet for recommendations for the best food for your pet based on his individual needs.
Flushing dog canine feces
As a conscientious dog owner, you always pick up your dog's poop when you're out for a walk or clean up after him in the yard. But from an environmental standpoint, using non-biodegradable plastic bags to collect the waste and then throwing it in the garbage isn't helping the problem.
According to Sierra Club, purchasing flushable poop bags for collection and flushing your dog's poop down the toilet is a more eco-friendly option for canine waste disposal. It's better for the environment than letting it spend a year decomposing — or even mummifying — in a landfill.
Composting dog poop
You can compost dog poop along with other organic material in your compost bin or pile. Turning the decomposing matter regularly helps the matter break down. Add one shovelful of sawdust or some other carbon source for every two shovelfuls of dog poop.
According to Gardening Know How, takes between four to six weeks for the compost to "cook," breaking down sufficiently for use. While proper composting should destroy the pathogens found in the carnivore diet, since it's not guaranteed, dog waste compost is not recommended for use in vegetable gardens or around fruit trees. This type of compost works for flower beds, potted plants, and landscaping mulch.
Using a digester
So you want to compost, but need to keep the dog feces above-ground. Scoop the poop into a digester, which breaks down the matter more quickly with the addition of special enzymes and water. Since you're regularly adding feces, water, and enzymes, it can be hard to tell exactly how long it takes the original "load" to decompose. However, in warm weather, that should take between two and three months.
This method is a good way to repurpose waste materials. Similar to other types of composting, the result typically yields fertilizer for non-edible plants. But more innovation is coming from dog poop composting. In the U.K., a man developed a public digester that breaks down dog poop to use as fuel for a lamp, showing that with innovation, what would have led to pollution can instead create a sustainable power source.
One caveat: Don't install a digester in clay soils. The liquified waste either can't leech back into the earth or takes a very long time to do so. You also can't use this method when the ground is frozen, as the poop just freezes and won't start decomposing until the weather turns warmer.
Fuel a worm farm
If you're interested in vermiculture, or worm farming, dog poop can help feed your worms just as well as the food scraps and other organic material you add to the worm bins. Mixing dog excrement and vegetable waste means that you must add leaves or newspaper to the bin to provide carbon to help break it down.
Because the worms eat the poop, it actually doesn't decompose. A pound of red worms can eat as much as a half-pound of waste each day. Worms produce their own weight in waste daily, which you can use as fertilizer. Note that dewormers taken by your dog can kill worms used in vermiculture. As with compost, don't use dog waste fertilizer on edible plants.
- Sierra Club: What's The Best Way To Get Rid Of Dog Poop?
- NCRAOA: How Long Does Dog Poop Take To Decompose?
- WormFarmGuru: How to Compost Dog Poo in A Worm Farm
- The Guardian: From Stools to Fuels: The Street Lamp That Runs On Dog Do
- Modern Farmer: Modern Farmer: 7 Secrets to Perfect Compost
- Gardening Know How: Pet Waste in Compost