With my many dooloop blog posts about what to do with dog poop, and my eco-warrior concerns about avoiding environmental contamination by countless dots of pup-poop, you’d think I would have told you to just flush that stuff. And you know what? In many cases, it’s OK! Even the Environmental Protection Agency says so.
There IS a big “BUT” to consider…or a wee little butt, if your pooch is a chihuahua, shih tzu, dachshund, or another pint-sized pup. In fact, there are at least three “buts” to the EPA’s quick answer to the question, “is it OK to flush dog poop down the toilet?”
3 things to keep in mind if you plan to flush your dog’s #2
1. Don’t flush if you have a private septic system. When the EPA says it’s OK to flush dog poo, they add, “so it can be treated at a sewage treatment plant." As of 2015, 21 million US households used a private septic system and drain field– not a public sewer system -- to handle their toilet waste. If you’d like to check that out state-by-state, there’s a really fascinating infographic right here. That’s one-fifth of the United States that doesn’t have access to a public sewer and a municipal wastewater treatment plant.
If you have a private septic system, you’ll want to keep everyday canine BM away from your indoor plumbing. An emergency flush or pint-sized poops may be okay, but private systems are built to handle a specific volume of waste based on the estimated size of a household, and if you’re adding doo-doo from a pack of pups, it’s contributing to the solids in your tank. You may need to have it pumped more often, which heaps extra dollars on your home maintenance. The Washington State University Extension also warns that dog feces contain hair and ash that aren’t found in human waste, and can clog your septic drain field.
So, if you’re not on a public sewer system, it’s probably a good idea to strike your toilet off the list of everyday ways to dispose of dog poop.
2. Never flush bagged poop. Although some poop bags claim to be biodegradable, it can take a few months to a few years for decomposition to fully break them down. Poop bags are great if you are scooping up poop (and slinging it safely into your dooloop poop-bag holder) to dispose of in the trash. But if you flush it, that baggie full of dog waste will be entirely intact when it arrives at the wastewater treatment plant or bobs its way down into your septic tank. It can clog your pipes at home and will also cause real problems in both public and private waste management systems. Either you, your landlord, a plumber, or a municipal sanitation worker will be the unfortunate person who must unclog the disgusting backed-up mess. So, bagged poop is always a no-go for toilets.
3. Got kids? Beware “monkey-see, monkey-doo.” If kids see you tossing things down the toilet rather than reserving the porcelain throne for human bodily fluids, it can be hard for them to decipher what’s flushable and what’s not. If that toilet-paper-wrapped dog-log is OK, what about wads of Kleenex, disinfecting wipes, or even Legos? It’s best to teach kids that nothing goes down the old toilet hole except their own poop, pee, and used toilet paper. Treating the toilet like a rubbish bin is bound to create conflict in a kid’s curious mind.
So, there you go, the word on the turd. Hopefully you’ve gotten a little more clarity about the using the flush. Until this blog post, TBH, I thought the septic would be okay, but nope! So, safeguard your family and community’s sanitation system and bank account by tucking your dog’s waste in the trash can instead of the toilet, when appropriate. And be sure to stock up on affordable dooloops to help carry it there! We’d all like a wand to wish dog poop away, but until then, it’s a better world when we all do our little part.