Picking Up After Your Dog: Why It's Important

Published by
min read

Find food that fits your pet’s needs

Find a dog food that fits your pet’s needs

Find a cat food that fits your pet’s needs

Picking up after your dog isn't exactly the most enjoyable chore. Let's face it — it's gross! It can be tempting to skip this task, but doing so is not only bad for the environment and public health — in many places, it's also illegal. Keep reading for all of the reasons you really do need to pick up your dog's poop, and read on to learn how to clean dog poop from grass.

Why Picking Up After Your Dog Matters

It May Be Required by Law

Dog looks on as human places waste in trash bin.
Many communities and municipalities require cleaning up after your dog. While this might be obvious in parks and public spaces with posted signs telling you to clean up after your pup, it's not uncommon for neighborhood homeowners associations and neighborhood covenants to require picking up poo even in your own yard. Even if you live in an area without posted signs or a homeowners association enforcing the rules, your city or county might have laws and regulations in place requiring you to clean up after your pet in public spaces.

Dog Poop Is Not Fertilizer

People often believe that leaving dog waste to decompose in the yard is good for the lawn, but the truth is that dog poop is toxic for your grass, said PetHelpful. Unlike cow manure, which is basically composted grass, a typical dog's poop, which is made acidic through natural digestive processes and their microbiome, is enough to destroy the grass underneath it. For this reason, dog poop also shouldn't be placed in your compost or used to fertilize your garden. In either case, it contains bacteria that could contaminate your vegetables.

It's an Environmental Pollutant

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency describes dog waste as containing two types of pollutants: nutrients and pathogens. Dog waste that gets washed into waterways may carry pathogens that affect living things in the water and can make people sick that are in contact. Also, nutrients released from dog poop can stimulate the growth of algae and other plant life, making the water unsuitable for recreational uses.

It Carries Diseases

Even if your dog doesn't show any symptoms of illness, their waste could still carry bacteria and parasites that are harmful to other pets and humans. And you don't need to come into direct contact with dog poop in order to contract an illness from it — diseases in poop can be transmitted by flies or other pets that come into contact with it, said iHeartDogs. Here, according to PetHelpful, are some of the illnesses and infectious organisms carried in dog poo:

  • Roundworms
  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Giardia
  • Leptospira
  • Parvo virus
  • Coliform bacteria

It Can Overwhelm the Ecosystem

While you may think your own dog's poop can't do that much harm, keep in mind that your dog is likely one of hundreds in your area. iHeartDogs pointed out that while the ecosystem can generally handle up to two dogs per square mile, in urban areas, there are on average 125 dogs per square mile — far more than enough to overwhelm the local ecosystem with their waste. By picking up after your dog, you'll help protect the ecosystem.

It Smells Bad

Dog feces left lying in parks, on public walkways and even on neighborhood lawns can quickly pile up to a point that the smell becomes overwhelming. Even if you live in a rural area with no close neighbors, you no doubt know that a relaxing afternoon in the hammock can be ruined by the smell of too many dog deposits in the yard.

It's Common Courtesy

If you've ever had to clean dog poop from the bottom of your shoe, you don't need to be told stepping in the stuff can ruin an unsuspecting person's day. Add to that the impact dog waste can have on the environment and public health, and it's not hard to see that picking up after your dog not only makes you a responsible dog owner, but also a considerate neighbor. It's simply the right thing to do.

How to Clean Dog Poop From Grass

Female hold green plastic bag with dog poop near a cocker spaniel.
Cleaning up after your pooch can be as simple as using a disposable baggie to pick up deposits and then dropping the whole bag in the trash. While this can be a great way to re-use plastic grocery bags, a more environmentally-friendly option is biodegradable baggies made specifically for this purpose, which you can find at most pet supply stores. It's also OK to use toilet paper to pick it up and flush the poo down the toilet. Although it might be too unwieldy to use on walks, for closer to home you could use a reusable rake with a scooping pan, which will prevent you from having to bend over.

For messier deposits, such as loose stool or dog diarrhea, Family Handyman suggested using compressed air to freeze the stool before picking it up. You could also sprinkle a small amount of clumping cat litter on top of the poop, which will make it easier to get it all. Cuteness recommended following up by spraying the spot with a commercial disinfectant to kill any bacteria or viruses that might get left behind — make sure to use one that is not harmful to your dog or keep them away from the area while it does its job. And be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if there's any chance you've come into direct contact with animal feces. If you don't want to deal with it yourself, in many cities you can hire a service to come and clean up your dog's mess and disinfect your lawn.

The bottom line is, as unpleasant and annoying as dog cleanup might be, it's a minor inconvenience compared to the cost of neglecting this responsibility. By taking the extra minute or so to pick up after your pup, you're not only being a good citizen and responsible pet parent — you're actually helping to save the world, one piece of poop at a time.

Contributor Bio

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.