If you noodle around the gossip sites these days, you’re likely to come across the case of Ugo the dog, who is being kicked out of his home for the crime of…gassiness. In fact, the entire family is being given the old-heave on account of Ugo’s posterior exhalations. Oh, the humanity! Leave it up to those New York City co-op boards to find something to pick on.
Seriously. Gassiness? In the great green scheme of things, the gassiness of domestic animals is an issue only when it comes to cow farts. As for the emissions from our dogs, cats, and other non-human family members, the occasional spurt of methane is small potatoes. We’ve got bigger fish to fry: their poop.
Walk with me below the fold to see what it’s all about (but first a little disclosure: I’ve known Ugo the dog since he was a pup. What a cutie!).
The Problem with Pet Poop
Pet waste accounts for a big chunk of our collective household garbage footprint. You might think you’re out of the woods if you live in a semi-rural area and can let your dog go naturally, but guess again: uncollected dog poop can contaminate stormwater. Even a small amount can wreak havoc on your local waterways.
Scoop the Poop
For dogs, the green way to go is to collect the poop – always. Check with your town or county to see if flushing it down the toilet is appropriate in your area. If not, the general rule of thumb is to wrap it in a bag and throw it in a trash can — never in a storm drain.
The same goes for cats. Though it’s nearly impossible to collect cat poop from outdoors, at least you can control the litter box. Before using any flushable kitty litter, find out if flushing pet waste is recommended in your area. If not, bag it up.
Why to Change your Kitty Litter
Conventional clay litter comes from strip-mining, and clumping litter in particular contains chemicals that cats can lick from their fur. There are plenty of eco-friendlier, healthier litters available. They’re generally made from recycled paper, sustainably harvested wood, and other safely biodegradable materials.
How to Change your Kitty Litter
I found out the hard way: go slow. Introduce the new litter a bit at a time. I got good results when I distributed the new litter along the sides of the box, and left a sprinkle of the old litter in the middle so they could feel something familiar underfoot.
Can Cats Use the Toilet?
According to jazz legend Charles Mingus, yes. And there are even special cat toilet training products to help them do it. If your cat figures it out, let me know!
What About Puppy Training Pads?
If you’ve ever raised a Seeing Eye dog, you know that pads are not necessary for house training a puppy. If you can’t imagine life without them, avoid the conventional pads and try one of the new biodegradable puppy pads.
Paper or Plastic Poop Bags?
Now, about that poop bag…there are such things as biodegradable poop bags (or boxes). That’s better than using plastic bags. You could also use whatever non-recyclable plastic bags come your way — the insides from cereal boxes, bags of potato chips, etc. These would end up in the trash regardless, so might as well get one re-use out of them.
Neither Paper Nor Plastic
If you have a yard, putting the poop underground is an option. Just be sure to research the how-to’s of correct pet waste composting or burying, so you don’t contaminate play areas, storm water, or your vegetable garden.
It’s also important to check out any local regulations. Burying or composting pet waste may not be a good idea if you live near an environmentally sensitive area, or in a densely populated area.
The Bottom Line on Pet Poop
Yes, they poop. Just like every other member of the family.
Image: gordonflood.com at flickr.com under creative commons.
Pet Waste: Dog Poop and Kitty Litter, Too
Written by Tina Casey
Published on January 21st, 2009Posted in Posted in Other Environmental Topics
I don’t understand, I thought we just COMPOSTED dog and cat poop?
Is this just a case of making things a lot more complex than they have to be?
There’s a whole group that (SAFELY?) compost human poop!
Is there something about cat and dog poop that’s bad for plants?
If you live in an apartment, condo or city coop, have a site compost area.
If you live in a single home, make you own.
Can pet waste compost (the garbage can/lid method) be used for dog waste AND scoopable kitty litter? Have 2 cats and 2 dogs….would be wonderful to safely dispose of their waste using the same compost program.
Thanks for your input.