We’ve all been there. Your dog decides to take a royal poop in the middle of the trail and you are left to scramble around for the slightest sign of a poop bag. Oh. Crap.
Yep, you forgot it in the car. The wind blew the last one out of your hand. Now you are left with nothing but your sadness and no willpower to find a way to dispose of the poop. See this used to be me, but then I realized that dog poop does a lot more to our trails and wildlife than we think.
Dog poop is, in comparison to most litter, not the worst thing to leave on the side of the road. But it does leave an impact on the world around you, and not just on your dignity which tends to happen when you are poop bagless.
Nature & Dog Poop: A Never-Ending Story
It’s a weird day if I don’t find a pile of dog poop somewhere on the trail. So many people bring poop bags with them for accidents like these and then actually forget or purposely forget to pick them up on the way out.
Not only are you leaving trash behind (the plastic bags are bad for the environment) you’re leaving behind a poop bomb. You heard me - a poop bomb.
Leaving feces of any kind behind that is not from a native species of wildlife can really set the course for many situations.
Bird sees fancy colored bag filled with what is believed to be treats. Bird eats plastic. Bird dies. Pretty morbid, right?
You forgot your dog waste bag. Now you have to leave the poop out in the open. A wind blows through and flings the poop into the nearest water source. Now you have poopy water.
These are just two things that could happen. Not only does dog poop threaten native wildlife, it can also threaten other dogs and humans. Dog poop can contain hundreds of thousands of bacteria. Whether it’s eaten by another pet or drank through filtered water, parasites and bacteria can infect both your pets and other humans.
Does Dog Poop Actually Go Away in the Wild?
According to LiveScience, almost 40% of dog owners claim they don’t pick up their pet’s poop for a variety of reasons (lazy, don’t feel like it, small dog = small waste, etc.,), but the main reason is that they think that the poop will actually go away!
Although poop does break down on its own after a long time, it doesn’t mean that the bacteria and parasites disappear. No matter what stage the dog poop is in, if other animals or humans ingest particles of it, they are still at risk for disease and illnesses.
So What Should You Do with the Doo-Doo?
Dog poop is never fun to mess with but many believe that the best way to avoid leaving behind any kind of issues for the environment is to flush or compost your pet’s waste. Flushing is great if you purchase bags that are flushable, but they usually come at a higher price and you still have to hike out with the poop.
Composting is another great way to get rid of pet waste, but it is not recommended to use for potting soil on plants you will eat!
All in all, it’s just important to keep your dog poop away from nature. Instead of confusing wildlife and adding to the endless amounts of bacteria already in the river you swam in, choose to pick up the poop and feel good about it.
It doesn’t smell great, but when you keep it wild, you don’t ever feel like you just hopped out of the shower.
Next time your dog does the doo-doo, be responsible and pick it up.
This blog was thoughtfully written by Erin Maxson. You can find her on Instagram @withdogshetravels.