If you think pet poo would make good fertiliser for the veggie patch, we’ve got news for you…

There’s no doubt Aussies are avid pet owners. We have one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world and in this country alone, we have approximately nine million dogs. Each of these pampered pooches produce around 180 kilograms of poo every year. That’s an enormous amount of waste that’s likely getting bagged-up in plastic doggy bags and disposed of into landfills.

While we all want to do the right thing when disposing of our pet waste, it can be difficult to know how to do it safely and in an eco-conscious way.

Can’t I just use poop as fertiliser?

Farmyard animals create great nourishment for the garden, however, domesticated house-bound animals like dogs and cats produce waste that is hazardous if dumped into the vegetable patch or thrown in with the general pile of home compost.

The danger with cat and dog poop is largely due to its composition (ie: what your animals are eating). While horse, chicken and cow manure is made up of hay and plant-based things, dogs and cats are omnivores and their faeces carry carbohydrates, fibre, proteins and fats. If worms or other diseases are present in your pet’s digestive system, these will also be present in their poo. These harmful parasites pose a health risk to humans and are particularly dangerous if it comes into contact with any consumable crops.

Another factor to be mindful of is that pet waste has a horrible odour and your neighbours won’t appreciate having a stinking pile of it in the yard next door.

So how can I dispose of pet poo properly?

Firstly, make sure you’re using a compostable doggy bag and not something that’s plastic when you scoop up the poop. Once bagged up, you can either dispose of it safely in a council provided dog litter bin or an industrial composting facility that accepts that waste stream. When the compostable doggy bag is exposed to aerobic microbial environment, it will degrade and decompose quickly, exposing doggy waste to microbes too.

Another option is to set up a dedicated hot composting bin at home. There are some risks associated with this, as it requires high heat and frequent turning to kill off the dangerous bacteria. It’s also advisable not to let this come in contact with any edible plants in the garden.

Bottom line: to steer clear of any health risks and unnecessary smell, it’s advisable not add dog and cat faeces to the home compost. Instead, use compostable bags and seek out your local council bin or composting facility.

 

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