Dog Poop Compost: A Guide to Turning Waste into Fertilizer

Dog Poop Compost: A Guide to Turning Waste into Fertilizer

As a responsible pet owner, it’s important that you dispose of your little buddy’s poop properly. Aside from social norms, dog poop can be very harmful to the environment. It can contaminate soil and water sources, and end up causing health risks to people and other animals. 

Dog poop takes months or sometimes years to decompose, so it’s crucial to find a good way to dispose of it. One of the best (and environmentally friendly) ways you can dispose of dog poop is by composting and turning it into fertilizer. This might sound odd to most dog owners, but it’s true!

In this dog poop compost guide, we’ll tell you all about how to compost dog poop, its pros and cons, give you tips on how best to do it, and answer questions like “can you use dog poop as fertilizer.”

If you’re looking to help preserve the environment by disposing of your little buddy’s feces in a proper way, dog poop composting might be the right option for you. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in. 

Understanding the Basics of Dog Poop Compost

Composting dog poop is different from the traditional compost bin that you may keep in your backyard. It takes longer for dog poop to decompose, so your good old composter might get contaminated with pathogens. This is why there are special dog poop compost systems you must use.

So, can dog poop be composted? The answer is definitely yes, but it needs a special system. If you’re thinking about using dog poop to compost, let us tell you what it actually means, and what benefits it has.

What is Dog Poop Composting?

Dog poop composting is an eco-friendly way to dispose of your little buddy’s feces and turn them into fertilizer for ornamental plants. The process is similar to other types of composting, but it requires a separate bin and can be more efficient with specialized systems.

So, if you’re asking yourself “can I use dog poop for compost,” the answer is definitely yes. However, it has its pros and cons. Let’s see what they are in the next section of our dog poop compost guide.

Pros and Cons of Dog Poop Composting

Is it possible to compost dog poop? Yes, but it needs to be done right. Does dog poop make good fertilizer? Also yes, but it comes with its ups and downs. Here are the pros and cons of dog poop compost:

Dog Poop Composting Pros and Cons

Choosing the Right Composting Method for Your Needs

Now that you know what dog poop composting is, it’s time to understand how to compost dog poop. There are essentially 2 ways to choose from - in your garden and in your home. Let’s discuss both options for dog poop compost to help you choose the best way for you.

Garden: In and Above Ground Composting Methods 

There are 2 main ways you can compost your furry friend’s waste in your garden - in-ground and above-ground. Let’s discuss each one to help you make an informed decision.

If you want to compost dog poop in the ground, you’ll need to be cautious of 4 factors. Choose a location that is far from edible plants and water. Bury it deep in a hole that is at least 12 inches deep. Use only small amounts of dog poop for this composting method. Give it at least 6 months to decompose. 

So, can you compost dog poop in-ground without contaminating the soil? The answer is yes, but you have to take the necessary precautions.

If you want to compost dog poop above ground, you’ll follow a more traditional path. Essentially, you’ll need a composting bin that is only used for dog poop compost. To start the process, layer in your little buddy’s feces with organic, carbon-rich materials like dry leaves or lawn clippings. From time to time, turn your composting bin to make sure everything is evenly distributed and mixed.

As opposed to in-ground composting, you’ll be able to use bigger quantities of dog poop with above-ground composting. However, it’ll require more maintenance.

If you want to compost dog poop at home instead of having a dog poop compost garden area, keep on reading through to the next section of this guide.

Home: How to Compost Dog Poop at Home

Composting dog poop at home can be done in your garage or another space that is away from children and pets. You’ll need a composting bin that is above ground, and you’ll need to follow all safety precautions mentioned in the above section. 

Ideally, you should store your dog poop compost bin in a secluded area so that it doesn’t get in the way. It’s also a good idea to store it in a well-ventilated space to not hinder the process of composting and keep bad smells out of your home.

US Laws on Having Compostable Bins at Home

As of 2023, many cities in the US require (or offer) people to have compostable bins at home, including San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and others. These laws require citizens to compost food scraps and yard waste. So, if your local regulations require you to have a composting bin, having another one for dog poop is a socially responsible decision.

Usually, the cities will offer to compost for their citizens, and all you have to do is separate your compostable waste from other trash. In other cases, the cities will provide their citizens with compost bins. 

If you live in an area where this option isn’t yet available, you can purchase your own at-home composter bin similar to these.

Since composting dog poop requires high heat to kill dangerous bacteria and pathogens, compost bins offered commercially or by the city service usually provide the required heat. On the other hand, at-home composters might not reach the high level of heat required to kill the pathogens in dog poop.

For these at-home composters, you can combine 1/3 pet waste, 1/3 food waste, and 1/3 green waste (such as lawn clippings or dry leaves) to get excellent mulch for non-food plants.

Related: Picking Up Dog Poop: All Your Questions Answered

Tips for Safe and Effective Composting of Dog Poop

Learning how to compost dog poop is a tough task. Since it can easily go wrong and spread harmful bacteria, there are rules you must follow. From wearing gloves to maintaining the right temperature, there is a right way to do it. If all is done right, the rewards will be worth it. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Safety precautions for composting dog waste

If you’ve started your journey of dog poop composting, you must learn how to safely compost dog poop. It’s a tricky business, and the last thing you want is to contaminate the soil in your garden. So, keep these 4 points in mind at all times.

- Always wear gloves when handling dog poop compost materials.
- Don’t compost dog poop if your buddy has recently been sick or given medication.
- Use a thermometer to make sure the compost reaches 60℃ (140℉) for at least 3 days to effectively eliminate all harmful bacteria and activate the many dog poop compost enzymes.
- Always compost dog poop separately in another bin, away from other composting materials.

    How To Properly Balance The Dog Poop Compost Pile

    The key to having a balanced compost pile for your dog feces compost is in the carbon-nitrogen ratio. This will help you get a final product that is rich in nutrients and safe for ornamental plants. We’ve identified a couple of rules of thumb you should follow, so let’s jump right in.

    💩 Use fresh dog poop because it contains more nitrogen.
    💩 Mix in materials like dry leaves and shredded newspaper that are rich in carbon.
    💩 Keep a 2:1 ratio of carbon-nitrogen.
    💩 Mix your dog poop compost often.

      If all is done right, you should get a fertilizer that you can use for non-edible plants. This fertilizer made of dog feces compost should be used in moderation. You must also monitor your plants’ reactions to the fertilizer and adjust the amount you use accordingly. 

      To teach you how dog poop compost can be safely used as fertilizer for your garden, we’ve dedicated a whole section to it. So, let’s jump in.

      Using Dog Poop Compost in Your Garden As Fertilizer

      Now that you’ve learned how the process of dog poop composting works, let’s talk about how you should use it. Since it has now turned into fertilizer, it’s time to reap your rewards.

      Although dog poop fertilizer can’t be used for edible plants, you can still find other uses for it. At the end of the day, is dog poop good fertilizer? The answer is yes. It is nutrient-rich and can boost the growth of your ornamental plants. But this doesn’t mean that fertilizer made of dog poop is all butterflies and rainbows. 

      Let’s talk about how to use dog poop for fertilizing your lawn in a safe way and what precautions you should take when you use dog feces as fertilizer.

      How To Properly Incorporate Composted Dog Poop Into Your Garden Soil

      By now, you already know that dog poop fertilizer must be kept far away from edible plants. So, how will you incorporate it into your garden soil? 

      Well, if you’ve followed all the safety precautions of dog poop composting, you should have an almost odorless fertilizer that is rich in nutrients. You can use this fertilizer on soil that is around 100 feet (30 meters) away from water sources and edible plants. This is far enough to avoid contamination. 

      If you’re looking to use your dog feces fertilizer on your lawn, you’re going to need a pitchfork. In case you don’t have a pitchfork, a shower should work as well. And don’t forget to wear gloves!

      Your goal is to incorporate your fertilizer into your garden, making sure that it is evenly disbursed. This way, all areas of your garden and each one of your plants will get an equal amount of nutrition.

      After the deed is done, take off your gloves and extensively wash your hands, just in case. 

      Remember to start with a small amount and monitor the reaction of your plants and soil to determine the future use of your dog poop compost as fertilizer. Among these, there are other precautions you should take when using fertilizer made of dog feces. Let’s talk about them now.

      Precautions To Take When Using Dog Poop As Fertilizer

      After turning dog poop into fertilizer, it’s important to use it right. Since this material can contain harmful bacteria, you must take certain precautions when using it. Here are 6 things to keep in mind when using dog poop compost as fertilizer.

      💩 Never use it on edible plants.
      💩 Keep away from children and pets.
      💩 Don’t use compost that still smells bad as fertilizer. Give it more time to break down properly.
      💩 Use the fertilizer in moderation.
      💩 Apply to plants mostly in the growing season.
      💩 Don’t mix with other chemical fertilizers.

        Summing all up

        All in all, dog poop composting is one of the best ways to dispose of your little buddy’s waste. Of course, you can flush it down the toilet or throw it away in a bag, but if you want to help the environment while also saving money on commercial fertilizers, this is a “pawesome” way of doing so. 

        Dog poop can take a lot of time to decompose and it requires you to follow certain precautions when using it as fertilizer. It can take months or sometimes years to decompose, but you can do it quicker with the help of certain systems.

        We’ve told you all about the different methods of composting dog poop at home or in your garden, above-ground and in-ground. We strongly urge you to follow all the necessary precautions to avoid harming the environment or exposing your loved ones to health risks.

        Refer to this guide when you’re being a socially responsible dog parent.

        In case you still have questions, refer to the FAQ in the next section of our dog poop compost guide.

        More questions about dog poop compost? We've got answers.

        Dog Poop Compost FAQ

        How long does dog poop take to compost?

        Dog poop is well known for taking its sweet time to compost. So, how long does dog poop take to compost actually? In specialized composters, the dog poop compost duration can be shortened to weeks instead of months. 

        The most crucial factor here is that dog poop needs to sit at a temperature of 60℃ (140℉) for a couple of days, just to make sure that the harmful bacteria are eliminated. If your compost still smells unpleasant, it means that you should give it more time to decompose fully.

        How far from water does a dog poop compost need to be?

        Keeping your dog poop compost away from water sources is important to avoid contamination and exposure to health risks. Generally, keeping your compost a good 30-40 meters (100-130 feet) away from water sources is good enough. Keep in mind that this number may vary according to the regulations in your region.

        Your dog poop compost doesn’t only need to be far from water sources but also from edible plants and areas where children play. So, if you’ve decided to compost your little buddy’s feces, you’ll need to be careful and attentive to regulations.

        How to compost dog poop in the winter?

        One of the keys to composting dog poop is a high temperature, and cold weather in the winter can halt that process. So, if you want to know how to convert dog poop into fertilizer in the winter, simply remember this: you can use specialized systems and equipment for dog poop composting that are made to work in cold weather as well.

        Another thing you can do to help dog poop composting in the winter is to add sawdust, dried leaves, or newspaper into your compost to prevent it from freezing or becoming too wet.

        How do you break down a compost pile of dog poop quickly?

        Due to a high level of nitrogen and pathogens, dog poop is harder to compost than other materials. It can take a while, but here are a couple of ways to speed up the process:

        💩 Use specialized equipment for hot composting.
        💩 Add sawdust, dry leaves, or newspaper to balance out the nitrogen-to-carbon ratio.
        💩 Control the level of moisture: keep it moist but not too wet or too dry.

          How long does it take for dog poop to become fertilizer?

          If you’re looking to turn dog poop into fertilizer, you have a complex task ahead of you. It can take months or years to make this happen, and you’ll need special composting systems if you want to speed it up. If you want to learn more about how to turn dog poop into fertilizer in a safe way, refer to the article above.

          Keep in mind that you can’t use fertilizer made from dog poop on edible plants since the harmful bacteria in it might contaminate the soil. You can only use it on ornamental plants. 

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