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Help your dog become a composter

By Matt Hickman, MNN.com
However you decide to dispose of your dog's poop, make sure to clean it up immediately.
However you decide to dispose of your dog's poop, make sure to clean it up immediately.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dogs produce an average of 274 pounds of waste a year
  • Dog waste can contain hard-to-kill, disease-carrying pathogens
  • You'll want to bury your dog's waste in a somewhat remote area of your backyard
RELATED TOPICS

Editor's note: Matt Hickman is an eco-living expert who blogs about the best way to go green at home.

(MNN.com) -- Long before I was dispelling eco-advice, I worked as a dog walker while in graduate school, and one of my charges was a Great Dane -- so I know how big a task cleaning up after your pooch can be. Pooches produce an average of 274 pounds of waste a year. (I'm guessing that amount is doubled for bigger dogs like Great Danes.)

You can technically compost dog waste but treat it like you would human waste while backwoods camping: Bury it in the ground -- and bury it deep.

Do not mix dog waste with food scraps and other organic waste that you compost in the worm bin. Dog waste, as you might know, can contain hard-to-kill, disease-carrying pathogens, so you don't want it mixing with your normal compost-to-fertilizer mix. If you fertilize edible plants with the stuff, you're putting yourself at serious risk.

MNN: How to build a compost bin with reclaimed wood

You'll want to bury your dog's waste in a somewhat remote area of your backyard, far away from any veggie gardens and also a good distance from streams, wells and other water sources, since there is the risk that it can contaminate groundwater supplies.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recommends checking your water table before you bury pet poop. The NRDC recommends digging ditches at least 5 inches deep, but I've read elsewhere that it should be at least a foot to keep curious critters away. Also, in lieu of some kind of shovel, you can scoop with a corn-based biodegradable pet waste bag and chuck it in the ditch. All in all, it's an easy process as long as you select an appropriate site.

And here's another option: the Doggie Dooley, an in-ground pet waste disposal system that functions like a mini septic system for dogs. It costs less than $100 and could be a wise investment if all that ditch-digging gets tiring.

MNN: Share composting duties with your neighbor

However you ultimately decide to dispose of your dog's poop, please make sure that you clean it up as soon as it hits the ground, whether in your backyard, in the park, or on the streets of your neighborhood. If you don't, those parasitic unsavories like E.coli and Giardia (aka Beaver Fever) before might get washed away and enter local water supplies.

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