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Is Dog Poop Bad for the Environment? Vet-Reviewed Nature Impact & Disposal

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

hungarian vizsla dog poops in the green park

Is Dog Poop Bad for the Environment? Vet-Reviewed Nature Impact & Disposal


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

It’s a fact of life that dogs poop every day. Ideally, they never do it indoors, only outdoors—especially while on walks or in the yard. There is a social and, in some areas, legal rule that we must pick up after our dogs do their business in public. Therefore, most of us do our best to bring bags along on walks so cleanup is easy.

However, many people overlook the times when their dog relieves themselves off the beaten path when other people are not as likely to see or get near it. It seems like it might be fine to leave dog poop in the forest, for example. The truth is that we should never leave dog poop on the ground, no matter where our dog poops. Here’s what you should know about the topic.

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Why You Should Always Scoop the Poop

There are a couple of important reasons that we should not leave poop on the ground, even in the deepest part of the woods. You may think that the poop will decompose and become a natural part of the environment, feeding the ground and plants around them. After all, bears poop in the forests and woods without a problem! However, bears eat from the same area, so when they defecate, they deposit natural nutrients back into the environment.

Dogs eat commercially produced diets that include all the nutrients needed for good health and happiness throughout their lives, but these nutrients are not part of the natural environment. There are higher amounts of certain nutrients, such as phosphorous, than what would be found in nature. So, when a dog poops in the woods and it is left there to “cook,” it deposits imbalanced amounts of nutrients into the ground, which can upset the overall natural environment.

Dog poop can also contain harmful bacteria that make humans ill when they come into contact with it in some way. People do not have to step in it to be exposed to the bacteria (there can be a large amount of it!) present in dog poop. The poop can easily end up in waterways where people fish, swim, and even drink from. When dog poop gets in the waterways, it can overfeed invasive water weeds, algae, and moss, which upsets lake and stream environments.

How to Properly Dispose of Dog Waste

chihuahua dog holding waste bags in its mouth outdoor
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

It is important to carry a plastic bag or two whenever you go on walks with your dog. You can use produce and grocery bags from the store or purchase compostable dog poop bags that can be conveniently attached to a leash or put in a pocket. When your dog defecates anywhere outdoors, just clean it up with a bag and throw it away in the nearest garbage can.

If necessary, you can carry a larger bag with handles to put the dirty bags in during your walks for easy transport until you get back home and to your own garbage can. Never put your dog’s waste in a compost bin, as the bacteria in it will only transfer to all the compost material and eventually into your garden.



It is never a good idea to leave your dog’s waste to decompose, whether at home or anywhere else in the environment. Whether you are on a long walk in the woods or going for just a short stint around the block, you should always have a bag with you to clean up waste when necessary. Never put dog waste in a compost pile; instead, use the garbage bin, just like you would for your kitchen trash. Taking these steps can help make our world healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable overall.

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Featured Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock

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