What's the Best Way to Get Rid of Dog Poop?

Here are some simple steps to reduce your best friend's carbon pawprint

By Bob Schildgen

August 11, 2019


Photo by Wavetop/iStock

Hey Mr. Green, 

I have two dogs and pick up their poop with a paper towel or tissue paper (not new but used/recycled) and put it into a plastic bag (bread bags, etc.), but I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic used. Could I flush the poop down the toilet, or is that bad?

—Debra in Merrick, New York

Reduce your use of plastic bags by acquiring a pooper scooper to pick up the material, and then place multiple deposits in a single biodegradable waste bag. Never put dog poop in municipal compost bins, because temperatures might not get high enough in compost facilities to kill pathogens, including salmonella, campylobacter, and toxocara. As for flushing, local policies vary greatly. Contact your local disposal folks to determine if flushing down the toilet is permitted. Don’t flush dog excrement into a septic-tank system unless its installers and manufacturers verify that their system can handle it.  

Keep in mind that different regions favor different approaches, apparently dictated by local conditions and available technology. For example, Snohomish County, Washington, cautions against but does not forbid flushing. Thurston County, Washington, meanwhile, explicitly forbids flushing, and even recommends double-bagging pet waste before depositing it in the garbage. Columbus, Ohio, declares, “Place it in the trash, bagged, or flush smaller quantities down the toilet,” although “smaller quantities” is not strictly defined. 

Collectively, America's 89.7 million dogs (up from 78.2 million in 2011) generate somewhere around 10 million tons of waste. If it all wound up in the dump, that would exceed 7 percent of the staggering 137.76 million tons of waste not retrieved from our landfills each year, according to the latest statistics from the US government.