How to Safely Compost Dog (and Cat) Poop

Compost pet waste? I know, gross. Not to mention potentially dangerous! But hang in there with me for a moment…

I have three dogs and one cat. Luckily, for their health, they all poop at least once a day. That’s a LOT of poop over the course of a year. Multiply that times all the other pets in the country and that’s REALLY A LOT of pet poop (typically tied in non-biodegradable bags) going into landfills!

In my ongoing efforts to work the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), I’ve been looking for a way to safely recycle my pets’ waste. No, neither dog nor cat waste is suitable for garden compost (and you need to be careful where and how you compost it), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be turned into general compost.

It just takes a little elbow grease, a couple of tools, a garbage can, some rocks–and about an hour of your time.

*Instructions for building an environmentally safe dog/cat poo composter:

  1. Because pet waste is a bacterial concoction that can include E. coli, salmonella, and giardia, you want to select an area with porous soil away from water sources (including areas with a high water table) and vegetable gardens so as to avoid contamination issues.
  2. Cut out the bottom of a plastic garbage can and drill a dozen or so drainage holes in the sides.
  3. Dig a hole deep enough to sink the can so that the top is a couple of inches above ground-level. (You want enough clearance to be able to securely fasten the lid.)
  4. Before placing the garbage can in the hole, add rocks or gravel to the bottom for drainage.
  5. After you toss in the day’s doodoo, just sprinkle on a little septic starter found in hardware stores. (I use  Ecological Laboratories 10q Microbe-Lift Septic and Cesspool Treatment with great success.)   Then add a little water and plop the top back on.

In short order, you’ll have rich soil to spread on anything non-edible. And if you don’t want to make use of the soil, just lift out the garbage can, dig another hole and rinse and repeat.

If you don’t have a place to safely compost, or you’d just rather not, then check out these 100 percent biodegradable BioBags for picking up your pet poo. At least these will break down in landfills and that’s a really good start!

* Thanks to Marion Owen for the idea!

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