Dog Poop Removal by Janice Jones |Published July 24, 2019
How do you dispose of your dog’s waste? As dog owners, we know we must clean up after our dogs, and some of us are more diligent than others at assuring our dogs do not create a problem for others who must share the same pathways and parks.
I will be reviewing my favorite poop bags in this article, but before I do, I'd like to provide some background information. Please feel free to skip the information and go straight to the review.
People are focusing more of their attention on environmental matters, clean air, and water, and some people look to pets and their impact on the environment.
According to a pet owners survey, there were approximately 89.7 million dogs owned in the United States in 2017
With that many dogs in the U.S. alone, the pounds of poop that these 89 million dogs make in a day can be staggering.
While it’s impossible to figure out how often a dog poops a day, some sources suggest it’s between 1 and five times. Where does all this poop end up? A simple question, but not a simple answer.
Most new dog parents will often ask how to get rid of poop on their carpet or rugs, but few consider how to dispose of it properly. There are four basic ways to get rid of poop:
And unfortunately, number five, do nothing at all which should not be an option.
Even if you live in a suburban or rural setting, leaving dog feces on the ground is not wise. Dog poop contains bacteria and can also contain worms such as hookworms and roundworms.
Even some other parasites such as Giardia can find their way into the poop. All of these parasites are considered to be zoonotic meaning that their harmful effects can affect humans who come in contact with the poop.
Poop left on the ground can eventually be swept into storm drains that find their way into rivers and streams adding tons of unwanted bacteria into our waterways creating dangerous situations for the wildlife that make their homes there to the people who enjoy boating and swimming.
Swimming in contaminated water at a beach frequented by dogs can lead to a host of health problems such as urinary tract infections. In one study, it was found that dogs were the most significant contributing animal source of enterococci to the beach site, above humans and birds.
There has been much debate in recent years about what is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of dog poop.
Years ago, no one ever gave dog poop a second thought except when a kid stepped into a big puddle. In the 1950s-1960s, people never picked up poop, and if they did, their companions would likely think of them as very odd.
Fast forward many years and man laws to get people to consider the hazards that dog poop poses, but even in 2019, we’ve still not landed a perfect solution.
As long as just the poop and nothing else is present, flushing is an option, especially for pet owners who have one small dog. It’s not likely to clog the toilet, and the poop will be washed to the local water treatment plant along with everything else.
This can be a problem when you have more than just one or two small dogs or if you have very large breeds that produce a lot of poop. Some poop bags have been manufactured and labeled as flushable, but even if they are marked as flushable, problems can arise.
Few people have the luxury of living on large plots of land where these “dog septic” systems can be a solution and even those that do, may find they don’t decompose and degrade fast enough when used in households with multiple dogs.
This method involves making or purchasing a dog digesting tub that is buried in the grown with just the lid showing above ground. The idea is to use a pooper scooper to gather up the poop, then open the cover and place the poop into the container with some water and chemicals and then let the digestion begin.
This may be an option if you have enough space outdoors to create a compost pile. It does require extra work to create the right ingredients and then turning it over weekly to assure uniform composting.
It is not without its hazards, including the bacteria and parasites mentioned above that can be passed on to humans. If done correctly, you can make fertilizer for shrubs and trees but do not use it on any edible plants or vegetables.
The most common way pet parents dispose of waste is through the use of disposable bags that are then placed in garbage containers and hauled by local refuge companies. I, for one, find this method superior over the others in my situation.
Many people will save grocery bags or those little colorful bags that cover your newspaper and use them to scoop up the poop. It is commendable that they are finding a second use for these bags, but unfortunately, all that plastic that can’t decompose still ends up on the landfill.
Many grocery stores will collect and recycle plastic bags, which may be an environmentally friendlier alternative.
Environmentally conscious dog owners fear the grave consequences of plastic pollution in our world because the problem gets worse over time. Trillions of tons of plastic items can be found in our landfills, oceans, lakes, and rivers.
Plastic that does not breakdown quickly and can leach chemicals into our water supply creating health concerns for every individual living on this planet. That includes you and me, but it can be unsafe for wildlife.
A better option for picking up poop is to select a degradable or biodegradable bag that will break down over time.
Plastics manufacturers have worked to develop a product that would function as plastic but would degrade and biodegrade relatively quickly in a landfill or compost.
Toughness. No one wants to deal with a messy situation while out on a pleasant walk. Containers need to be sturdy and strong enough to hold its contents without leaking or accidentally being poked through with long fingernails. This means that the plastic should be thick enough to get you back home without any undue mess. Some of the cheaper bags are very thin and break even before you use them to pick up poop.
Size. The size of the bag matters but does depend on the size of your dog. The larger the dog, the larger the bag should be. If you have a larger hand, you will also appreciate a larger bag.
Look for poop bags that are at least 13 inches by 9 inches at the minimum. Once full, the poop bag should be big enough to allow you to tie off the top to prevent odors.
Detachment. Bags should easily tear off the roll when you need them and should not tear in the process. Cheaper bags are often impossible to separate from the roll, and sometimes the bag rips in the process. Picking up dog poop is not the most enjoyable pet parent chore, and fiddling with poorly made bags adds to the unpleasantness.
Materials. Understanding the terms used to describe plastic will help you know what you are getting. Some manufacturers will use the words compostable and biodegradable interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing.
Compostable plastics means they decompose completely without leaving any harmful residue and can be used in composting facilities. Biodegradable means that they are made with a specific type of plastic that degrades quicker than the conventional one. These should be used in composting.
It is scented or Unscented. This is a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer those that have been infused with a scent. Others, who may have problems with odors, may prefer the unscented types.
Color and Design. Color or fancy designs shouldn’t matter, but some people will choose a bag based on its color or fancy pawprint design. If this is important to you, be sure you look at the other factors first such as size, detachment, and materials.
It is a reasonably straightforward process, but for first-time dog parents, the procedure may not be pleasant.
If you are out and about with your dog in a dog-friendly location, you may locate a canister designed for collecting waste.
These can be found near veterinary clinics, pet superstores, dog parks, or other types of pet-friendly parks and walking trails. If none are available, you will need to carry the bag back to your home and dispose of in your garbage container.
At Small Dog Place, we'd prefer to play with and care for our dogs and then write about our experiences. Hands-down, the easiest dog poop removal system here is biodegradable poop bags.
We choose this method and product because of time and space limitations. We choose biodegradable because we are concerned about the environment and would like to do what we can to leave a habitable planet for our children and grandchildren. But Which biodegradable poop bag to choose.
With a variety of products all claiming to be biodegradable, how does one choose? Part of the answer lies with the product but one should also consider the company, its customer service record, and any other perks the company may offer such as free shipping.
Dogbagsandmore.com sells poop bags, dispensers, and signs for parks and other locations where dogs frequent. I found their bags to be of high quality and their customer service exemplary.
Here’s a little video that might help explain the process better than I can.