There are some huge differences, and the proof is in… well, the poo. Let’s learn!
ew… It’s full of bacteria
“Wild animals are consuming nutrients from the resources around them in their natural habitat, then promptly returning those same nutrients back into the Earth.” (lnt.org)
See the photo from Rocky Mountain National Park’s team below depicting sprouts from bear scat. The food that gets ingested, ends up deposited and regrows. This is important!
“When we start adding in dogs, that balance is thrown way off. Most domesticated pets aren’t eating native plants or wild game – they’re eating processed kibble or Greenies or rawhides or leftover spaghetti your grandpa throws in their food bowl. This results in excess nutrients along the trail, and in turn creates unstable conditions that allow algae blooms and create an easy habitat for invasive plant species to grow.” (lnt.org)
ew… There’s too much of it
Are you still not picking up what I’m putting down? Take a deep breath on this one: all the dogs in the US produce 21 billion pounds of waste each year. And with that, “Just three days worth of poop from 100 dogs has enough bacteria to temporarily shut down 20 miles of a bay or watershed for swimming and shellfishing.” (huffingtonpost.com) So much for jumping in the lake this summer!
Wes Siler from Outdoor Magazine lays down the heavy load. “A study conducted on a heavily polluted stream in northern Virginia used DNA analysis to determine that 42% of the controllable bacteria in the water came from dog poop.”
So, let’s help the environment and our fellow hiker’s boots and clean up after our furbabies. It’s doing more harm than good.
Oh… How CAN I Help?
Carry out! Whatever comes out with you must come back with you. I have been using biodegradable Frisco Pet Waste Bags* that you can find on Chewy.com that are super easy, rather large for swift pickup and leakproof for a cleaner clean-up. The packaging is made out of recycled materials and the bag is built from product that will break down faster, so that there’s less guilt about using so much plastic. I tried to do some research on the biodegradability of the bags’ EPI technology, and it’s still plastic materials. For now, these work well and I’ll stick with, but let me know if you’ve found safer options that wont leak – if I am doing this, I might as well go all. the. way!
As for cleaning up while hiking, Frisco sends a great little capsule that attaches to my leash, so I always have some on hand. Plus, I’ve been using an old water bottle with a wide, screw-on lid to pack the bags out in – no stank! I’ll carry it out with the cap sealed tight in my backpack. (I actually got this carry-out idea from a great hiker girl on Instagram but I forget her handle – DM me and I’ll credit you for this genius-ness!)
All in all, Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics says it best, “Responsible pet ownership means doing our “doody” to pick up our pet’s waste.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Leave No Trace principles, visit their website at lnt.org.
Blog Excerpt from Leave No Trace Center: https://lnt.org/blog/wildlife-poop-versus-dog-poop-explained
Article from Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/21/dog-poop-tons-feces_n_1440383.html
Outside Magazine Article: https://www.outsideonline.com/2292736/its-time-talk-about-dog-poop
Not used, but interesting study from Leave No Trace Center: https://www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/2_2_18_OSMP_Pet_Waste_Final_Report-1-201802051053.pdf
*Chewy.com sent me this product in exchange for my open and honest review.