Can I put dog poop in my compost?

QUESTION: Can I put dog poo in my compost? I have two medium sized dogs, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with all the pet waste. – Regina W

ANSWER: You should never add dog poop or cat poop to your regular compost bin or compost pile. Pet waste contains parasites that may not be killed in household compost bins, which need a steady temperature of 165 degrees F or higher for at least five days in order to kill off the parasites, which is hard to maintain in home composting setups.

Dog waste can carry a number of unhealthy parasites that can affect humans and other animals, such as roundworms, the eggs of which, if ingested, can hatch inside human intestines. The tiny eggs can also travel through the blood stream, attach themselves to the lungs, liver, or other organs. The eggs can also cause blindness if they attach to the retina. 

There are, however, composting solutions designed specifically for dog poop. These dog poop composters are buried in the ground and work more like a septic tank system. Earthworms and bacteria will typically break down the poop so that the bin does not fill up quickly. In some cases you can continue using it indefinitely.

If you want to try composting it without a special bin, it’s possible, but not at all recommended.

To avoid the complications of composting with dog poop, you have to alter the material before adding it into the compost heap. Use one part sawdust and two parts dog manure. Compost mixtures also require plenty of carbon to assist in breaking down the nitrogen-heavy manure. Cover your compost pile with black plastic to increase the heat and trap it in the pile. Be sure to turn the pile weekly and monitor the temperature with a compost thermometer to make sure that it stays at a suitable level.

In four to six weeks, your compost will be crumbly and ready to mix with other organic compounds. If your compost was prepared at a high enough temperature to kill the parasites, you can add your dog poop compost to your yard soil as an amendment. Even though you think you were able to keep temperatures high enough to kill all the parasites, there is no way to guarantee that the parasites are all dead. Because of this, it is recommended that compost which contains dog poop should only be used around ornamental plants such as shrubs and trees and should never be used around edible plants. For best results, mix it with vegetative compost for the best results.