Pet Waste - The Problem
- Being carnivorous, pets make waste that is four times more harmful than human waste
- Dog and cat waste contains TOO MUCH nitrogen and is harmful to plant life
- Nitrogen, bacteria, and other harmful disease casuing organisms run off urban areas directly into nearby waterways via the storm sewer system every time it rains
- Causes algal blooms, blocking sunlight and oxygen, vital to fish and other aquatic life. Often a primary cause of beach closures after heavy rain
- Average dog produces approximately 1/3 of a pound of waste per day
Pet Waste - The Solution
- Bury or compost beneath ground level to completely breakdown the waste/pathogens
How to build your own pet waste digester:
Step 1 - Preparing the Bin
- Get yourself an old plastic garbage bin (we used an 80 litre - 20 gallon bin)
- Use a jig saw to cut out the bottom of the garbage bin
- Starting about 6” from the top of the bin, drill ¼” holes around the sides every 3-6”. This will mitigate odour escaping from the top, and allow an exchange of micro-organisms and finished compost between the bin and neighbouring soil.
Step 2 - Site Preparation
- Call before you dig – check the front page of the phone book for the numbers you will need to call for utility locates
- Dig a hole for your composter to sit in somewhere out of direct sunlight and away from your vegetable garden. The composter should be flush with the ground or slightly raised (about 6” above ground allows for easier access once the snow arrives)
- Add rocks or gravel in the bottom and test with a water hose to ensure adequate drainage. Place the bin in the hole and back fill it.
Step 3- Using your Pet Waste Digester
- Add pet waste every day from walks and as frequently as possible from the yard.
- Add water and septic bacteria/enzyme treatment on first day and then weekly or as needed. This will help kick-start the composting process and assist in the breakdown of pathogens. The decomposition process will be slower in the winter, but contents will shrink in the warmer weather of spring.
- Adding dry grass clippings or leaves occasionally can be helpful.
- As the pet waste breaks down it will be incorporated into the surrounding soil where organisms continue the process. Add more septic treatment and water if the waste is breaking down too slowly.
- If you have more than one dog, consider building a second unit to accommodate the extra volume.
- If you find the compostable bags are not decomposing, simply empty the contents into the bin, and put the bag in garbage.
- We do not recommend using your composted pet waste as fertilizer.
What about cat litter?
Clumps of urine-soaked clay cat litter will build up quickly and will not break down. It is best not to add this to the digester. It is OK to add just the cat faeces. Some cat litters are made from biodegradable materials such as newspaper, straw, or wood shavings. This material will break down in a digester but you may need to use septic treatment more often to help the process.
Page last updated on Thursday, September 06, 2012