A dog owners cleans up after their leashed dog.

The Truth About Your Dog’s Droppings and the Effect on Your Lawn

We all have a special place in our hearts for our pooches. However, most dog owners will tell you that bathroom breaks are the least exciting aspect of pet parenting. Despite the inconvenience, picking up dog poop is an essential part of keeping your lawn clean and you and your pet healthy.

Learn more about dog waste and the potential effects on your lawn with our truthful takes on these common myths:

Myth #1: It’s Just Poop, It Can’t Make Me Sick

Truth: Dog waste contains millions of bacteria that can lead to severe health problems. Allowing dog poop to remain on your lawn creates a higher risk of getting an infection. Dogs and other animals (including yourself) could step in the poop, and transmit tiny particles to other areas of your home, including carpets and furniture. Common problems associated with dog feces include intestinal issues, diarrhea, and kidney disorders.

Dog poop can also pose problems for your other pets. Roundworms and tapeworms are often found in dog poop, which can spread to other animals and cause illness and infection.

Myth #2: Dog Waste Fertilizes My Lawn

Truth: While you may see more growth in certain areas of the lawn where your dog likes to relieve themselves, dog poop does more damage than good. Dog urine is high in nitrogen and can cause dead patches of grass. Dog poop also creates an unsightly “landmine” situation, which makes it hard to enjoy the lawn you’ve tried so hard to maintain.

Myth #3: Heartworm Spreads Through Dog Poop

Truth: Heartworm is a horrible disease that has become a significant problem for pet owners. Although it would be easy to blame dog poop for spreading the parasite, heartworm actually spreads through mosquito bites.

Myth #4: My Neighbors Don’t Really Care

Truth: Your neighbors definitely care! Many homeowner associations will fine an owner who doesn’t pick up after their pet and creates an eyesore for the neighborhood. About 10 million tons of dog poop is not picked up each year, creating a germy, unsightly damper on the environment. It’s one of the biggest contributors to urban watershed pollution in the United States, and feces often gets swept away by stormwater and contaminates creeks, rivers, and ponds. This issue has created tension among many neighbors who find dog poop in their yard, especially if they don’t own a dog.

Myth #5: It’s Not a Big Deal

Truth: Dog poop left on the lawn can become an eyesore, making your home and pet seem uncared for and neglected. If you’re trying to sell your house, allowing dog poop to pile up in the backyard is a major turn off and can significantly reduce the value of your property.

Now that we’ve debunked the common myths about dog poop and your lawn, what can you do to keep your lawn healthy?

Clean It Up On a Regular Basis

We’ve all been too busy to keep up with lawn maintenance. So, set a goal for picking up poop every three days to keep your lawn clean. This will help keep odors out of the yard, as well as allow the grass to have a chance to bounce back. This is an excellent job for older kids, like teenagers, who understand good hygiene after coming in contact with fecal matter.

Take Bags Along

Walking your dog is a significant part of owning a pet. Daily walks help your pup get exercise and can cut down on hyperactivity while inside the house. Make sure you always have a bag with you on walks, in case your dog relieves themselves on someone else’s property. If you forgot your bag, make a note of the mess and make sure to come back after the walk to clean up after your pet.

Where to Discard Poop

Many homeowners end up gathering their pet’s poop and throwing it in the trash. This can lead to a stinky home if forgotten or left too long indoors. Of course, you could always flush poop down the toilet when you get home from a walk. Some pet care companies even offer new biodegradable pet waste bags that will slowly decompose if left on your lawn.

Create a Designated Spot

When bringing home a new dog or puppy, consider training them to only poop in one area of the yard. This can cut down on the need to hunt for poop and make it easier to care for your lawn and your pet. Pet proofing your yard and garden is also a good way to keep your dog safe when left outdoors unsupervised.

Properly Care for Your Lawn

For those areas of the lawn that your dog visits often, diluting the spots with water can help break up the concentration of nitrogen and allow your grass to recover naturally. Other options include spreading lime over the lawn to help neutralize the acidic parts. Reseed bare spots where the grass has died and consider adding fertilizer to help lawn growth.

The best way to care for your lawn when owning a dog is to pick up poop promptly. Doing so will help prevent any future issues from arising. Knowing the truth about your dog’s droppings and the effect on your lawn and the environment is an essential part of being a good dog owner.

Rachel Vogel is an outdoor and gardening writer and ukulele extraordinaire. When she’s not working she’s playing with her Goldendoodle Oliver or you can find her lying in her hammock and enjoying nature any way she can.