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Using Dog Poop as Fertilizer Leads to Retinal Diseases in Children

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In an effort to be green, dog owners have long considered using dog poop as fertilizer. Unfortunately using dog poop as fertilizer leads to retinal diseases in children. In a paper written by an Extension Veterinarian and Extension Soil Scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, they indicated “ two major concerns to bring to your attention: Public Health Aspect, Fertilizer Values.”

Given that cattle manure is considered the standard fertilizer, the Vet and Scientist compared dog poop with cattle manure to determine its potential application to lawns and gardens. They determined that dog poop has  2-1/2 times as much nitrogen and half as much potash as cattle poop, meaning dog poop won’t provide the same fertilizing nutrients as cow manure.

The other concern reported by these experts is the potential health concerns of the people exposed to the dog manure.  They stated that “both dog and cat manure may contain organisms that cause human health problems.”  The most common hazard in dog manure is “large roundworm, called Toxocara canis.”

 What kind of symptoms would a person have who is infected by dog worms?

1) A condition called Visceral Larval Migrans. The ascarid eggs hatch in a person’s small intestine. The little worms or larvae get into the blood stream and float to the liver. They migrate in the liver and get to the blood stream that goes to the lungs. Some may enter the general circulation and end up in different parts of the body. They have been found in the human heart, brain, spinal cord, skin, and other tissues. The symptoms would vary depending on where the larvae become attached.

2) Another condition is called Ocular Larval Migrans. The immature ascarid worms or larvae can affect the human eye. The larvae attack the retina and cause blindness. Many eyes of children have had to be removed which until recently was the only treatment for this problem.

In a pediatric hospital 37% of all the retinal diseases of children’s eyes were positive for dog ascarid larvae. This is definitely a potential human health hazard.”

They also considered the benefit of composting the manure to sterilize it but determined that, in order to sterilize the poop the compost heat temperatures would need to exceed 165 F for almost a week and “backyard compost heaps rarely reach this temperature, and the outer several inches never do.”

These results led the Vet and Soil Scientist to conclude,

The health hazards associated with cat and dog manure are greater than the potential benefit from its fertilizer value. Cat and dog manure should be disposed of by flushing down the toilet, burying deep in the soil (six inches or more) or by placement in tight plastic bags for garbage collection.”   Read the complete report here.

There are many sites online that will tell you how to compost dog poop for fertilizer. Reflect on the fact that using dog poop as fertilizer leads to retinal diseases in children and if you still want to move forward, please pay particular attention to the Soil Scientist’s statement about needing to reach 165 F for at least five days. An alternative to eliminate your dog poop and maintain a green home is to use biodegradable poop bags, which are available at large pet retailers and from many online retailers.




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  1. Avatar Of Laura Munoz

    Laura Munoz


    So if your dog is on heartworm preventative, it’s supposed to kill the roundworms. Thus, it would seem to me this would make dog feces safe. Where do the roundworms come from anyway? I realize some pups get them in the uterus from their mother, but not all dogs are born with them…Could it be that roundworms are already in the soil? I think the argument “don’t use dog feces” for compost used for ornamental plants is flawed.

  2. Avatar Of Kevin Owings kevin owings says:

    Back in the 80’s we used a fertilizer on golf greens made from human waste. The bag stated from Milwaukee sewer sludge. I personal use dog poop as fertilizer. I do not eat the vegetables that fall in it(usually). It grows fantastic tomatoes. I do not understand how a round worm or egg could hatch out or attach itself to tomatoe growing two feet above the ground. Someone please explain it to me. I will not grow root crops in it but I bet if you washed them it would be ok.

  3. Avatar Of Chris Harcoan

    chris harcoan


    if you want to use it as a fertilizer….all you have to do is to use pyrolysis.

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  5. Avatar Of Dale0844



    So, Pigs, cow, and chickens don’t get round worm? Makes me wonder why dad wormed our hogs? And chicken shit is found in every commercial potting soil or compost sold. What do they feed chickens? (grass I don’t think so) I hope this guy never digs a hole in his yard. I’m sure he will find scary stuff living in his soil that could end his life. You don’t want to use any type of shit on your yard if you have kids! This guy is just someone who watches tv news and figure he make drama instead of writing something useful. Stay turn to night channel five new will tell you how a house hold product could be killing you. But we aren’t going to tell you now and save your life, then you know that yea if you spray bug killer down your throat it will kill you. something everyone over 8 knows and there would be no need to watch channel five news.

  6. Avatar Of John



    I don’t believe any ‘sensationalism’ or ‘Hype’ generated ‘info’…….and this is the sum of these articles on the detriment of dog poop…….

    What IS left out is, as usual, is the ‘WHOLE PICURE’……… there are many organism ‘out there’ that will break down (like any other fecal matter) the organic constituents that comprise it over time, including ‘time’. Many types of insects/arthropods, terrestrial n subterranean, the sun, wind, and rain, can be added to this equation. Dog poop, like any other ‘organic’ waste product IS bio-degradable ((You didn’t say it wasn’t BUT you also didn’t say it WAS, now, did you??) All this creates a VERY distorted reality of ‘what is’, and also exacerbates the purported dangers of dog waste. I rest.

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  8. Avatar Of Dave S

    Dave S


    It is rare to hear anyone suggest heating manure (dog, cat, human, etc.) in an oven as a means of sterilizing it. Why not get a cheap used microwave oven for the purpose and heat a quart of manure to around boiling (200-212 F) for a few minutes? Some easy experimentation will determine the needed time. Surely such heating will result in virtually complete sterilization. Smelly? Probably, so do it outdoors on a windy day.

    Or, if there is something I am missing here, do tell. Thanks.

  9. Avatar Of Annette



    The only poop that should be used as fertilizer is from veggie eating animals; chickens, cows, horses, etc. Most home compost piles DO NOT get hot enough to kill bacteria and parasites in omnivore/carnivores.

  10. Avatar Of Shannon



    Gee – The University of Florida sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/compost-info/tutorial/dog-waste.shtml and many, many others think that controlled pet waste composting is OK. Kids can pick up diseases from dog waste anywhere – parks, sidewalks, your lawn, a pet’s tongue. Teach kids to wash their hands and keep their hands out of their mouths. Or if they’re too young to understand, watch them like a hawk. Keep them away from your pet waste compost pile. Don’t use scare tactics in articles.

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