Dog waste is not just a nuisance, it’s a health hazard. If you have dogs or even if you don’t, you probably think about them when going out to do your chores around the house. Dogs are messy eaters and they leave behind lots of droppings all over the place. They also spread disease like rabies and other diseases that affect humans and animals alike.
The problem with dog feces is that it’s hard to get rid of them. There are many different kinds of dog waste, but most of them are not biodegradable.
So what do you do?
You either throw away the poop or try to compost it.
Composting Dog Poop Is Not Just For Gardeners And Gardening Junkies!
If you’re thinking about composting dog poop, then I’m sure you’ve heard of worm castings (also known as worm manure). Worms are microscopic creatures that live in the soil. They feed off organic matter such as dead plants and animal excrement. When they die, their bodies become food for bacteria which in turn produce methane gas.
Methane gas is a greenhouse gas that traps heat much better than carbon dioxide does. Methane gas (CH4) traps about 34 times more heat within the earth’s atmosphere.
So what does worm manure have to do with dog waste?
Well, dog waste is not just full of bacteria that causes disease, it’s also full of nutrients. Some of these nutrients are very valuable additions for your garden soil or compost pile. This is important when it comes to worm castings.
Worms do not eat dog waste directly. They eat the bacteria that break down the organic matter in it. The nutrients from the dog waste are then excreted, or passed through the worms’ bodies and becomes a yellowish substance known as worm castings. These castings are loaded with nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Is It Okay To Compost Dog Waste?
Even though dog waste is good for your garden soil, it’s not the best thing to add to your compost pile. This is because it takes a very long time for the bacteria that eats dog waste (and its nutrients) to be broken down. To make things worse, you can’t just add a few drops of dog waste to your pile and then wait for it to break down. No, you have to wait for the pile to break down before adding more dog waste on top of it.
So bottom line is, the nutrients in worm castings are good for your garden soil, but dog waste itself should not be added to your garden. This is because dog waste must be broken down over a long period of time before it’s safe to use for your plants.
Another thing to keep in mind is that dog waste can’t just be thrown on your garden soil without any preparation. This is because the bacteria in it doesn’t get absorbed very easily by the soil if you just throw it on there.
I know what you’re thinking.
Why not just throw it on there and let nature take its course?
Well, things don’t work that way I’m afraid. The only way to get those nutrients into the soil is to chop it up really small (with a spade or hoe) and then mix it all up really good.
This is a lot of hard work for most people. You have to remember that dog waste needs to be broken down very quickly before it begins to smell. This isn’t something most people want in their garden, hence the reason why most people don’t compost their dog waste.
Sources & references used in this article:
Design, testing and implementation of a large-scale urban dog waste composting program by L Nemiroff, J Patterson – Compost science & utilization, 2007 – Taylor & Francis
Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System: Compost Food Waste, Produce Fertilizer for Houseplants and Garden, and … by M Appelhof, J Olszewski – 2017 – books.google.com
Master Composting Program by S Angima – Oregon State University, 2013 – extension.oregonstate.edu
The Compost Heap by H Rader – yakutattlingittribe.org
Microbial succession associated with organic matter decomposition during thermophilic composting of organic waste by K Nakasaki, K Nag, S Karita – Waste Management & …, 2005 – journals.sagepub.com
Be a Chesapeake Bay Retriever: Designing Effective Outreach Programs to Reduce Pet Waste by D Wood, CS Network – 2017 – chesapeakestormwater.net
Sticky Brighton: Dog Excrement in Brighton and Hove Public Areas by A Kvalheim – City Imaging: Regeneration, Renewal and Decay, 2014 – Springer