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Written by Disha Ramanan
As dog lovers and pet parents, we pay utmost attention to our furry pal’s every need – be it food, bedding, toys, treats, clothes, you name it. But there’s also something else that we should be addressing every day. Sometimes multiple times a day.
Yep, you guessed it. We’re talking about dog poo.
Let’s Flush Some Myths
Our recent survey, Pet Dogs of India 2019, highlighted an astonishing fact – more than 60% of our respondents admitted to not picking up after their dog.
Dog parents often believe numerous myths regarding their dog’s business, which might be a big reason behind this statistic. Some of the more common ones include “dog poo is like fertilizer, it’ll naturally enrich the soil as it decomposes”, or “dogs on the streets poop and we take that as a part of urban nature, so why can’t my dog be pooping outside” or even “well, my dog is healthy, so her poop isn’t going to cause any infections or anything”. A couple of people we’ve spoken to have also felt that paying for cleaners in their residential colonies and/or paying the annual pet registration fee at their city’s municipal corporation is enough for somebody else to do the job for them.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. As responsible dog parents, we must realise how crucial picking up after our dogs is. First, let’s deconstruct some of these myths.
Sniffing Out The Truth
The bottom line about dog poop is that it’s toxic.
That’s irrespective of whether your dog is healthy or ill. Every dog’s poop is poisonous to grass, plants, the soil and the water table. It’s common for us to believe that all animal waste is manure, but that’s largely dependent on how each unique species’ system works as well as what they eat.
A cow exclusively feeds on plant material whereas a dog is usually raised on a meat diet. This does not leave our dog in a position where its poop can be beneficial to the soil.
Many dogs in India are raised on a meat-free diet, but there again, another issue arises. Your dog’s waste is naturally acidic. That alone can kill any plants in the area.
If you’ve missed your dog’s deworming schedule, don’t be surprised if his business has worms in it. This leaves other dogs, be it community (stray) dogs or other pet dogs, susceptible to the same worms. And that’s neither fair nor responsible.
Dog waste lying outside also contaminates our water. Many of us feel that the rain will “wash away” the poop, but essentially, the same acidic and toxic waste gets carried as run-off into our waterways, leading to fecal contamination.
Further, even if your dog is healthy, waste is always going to have bacteria, and bacteria cause illnesses of all kinds – whether it’s to humans, other dogs, smaller animals or even plants. Coupled with the troubling trend of carelessly medicating with antibiotics, a far more terrifying consequence seems to be emerging – the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli and other bacteria and parasites (which does indeed affect humans as well) in our water and soil.
And anyway, at the end of the day, let’s face it – it’s just common courtesy to not leave piles of poo out and about for the next unsuspecting person’s foot to dive into, is it?
Aside from this, 32.4% of the dog parents who took our Survey mentioned that their neighbours do not have a positive opinion of them or their dogs. Where the general opinion about dogs and their parents already isn’t the best, let’s not give anybody another reason for disliking doggos. Also unfortunately, street dogs get a bad rap for pet dog poop that’s been left unattended to.
So next time, it might be a good idea to ensure there’s no brown proof that your dog’s been out for a walk.
Some Smell-free Solutions
If you’re downright disgusted at the very thought of picking up poo, you’re not alone. But it’s most crucial to do it all the same. Here are some suggestions to make the process as hassle-free as possible.
A jaw-clamp poop scooper
This could be the ideal solution for you if you’re completely averse to the idea of getting anywhere near your dog’s poo. You can use a high-pressure hose to clean the scooper. Alternatively, you could try laying a sheet of newspaper atop the poo and then scoop it.
Biodegradable poop bags
Normal poop bags come in plastic, but it’s important to be friends of the environment. There are some great options for biodegradable poo bags now for a guilt- and hassle-free pickup experience!
- The age-old newspaper method
We’re big on the old-school newspaper method. If picking up the poo after your dog is done isn’t quite your thing, you can always slide it underneath the minute your dog squats. You’ve got to be watchful for this one, but it does indeed make the job hassle-free.
- Burying it in the ground
Now this one comes with some caveats. It’s not a good idea to bury dog waste where there is grass and other greenery. It’ll turn the soil acidic and toxic to the plants. You could potentially do it if your dog goes in an area that’s something like a landfill or an otherwise barren piece of land. Do make sure it is not susceptible to flies and other things and that it’s at least a few inches into the ground.
- Buying a dog poo composter
Composting dog poo could be a good idea. While dog waste fresh from the source is not manure, dog poo after composting certainly is. It is an environmentally conscious thing to do and has all-round benefits. Just get a composter and some enzymes to help speed up the process.
While cleaning up dog poop may not be the most glamorous thing in the world, the benefits far outweigh the temporary inconvenience. There’s no health risk to you by picking up after your dog, but you could be minimizing a lot of health risk to other dogs, animals, plants, the soil and the broader community by doing something that really shouldn’t be that big of a deal.
Importantly, if you see any dog parent leave behind their dog’s poo, it’s always a good idea to have a polite and informative discussion on why they should be picking up. After all, if you truly love your dog, you gotta love picking up after them too.