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Home > Dogs > Why Picking Up Dog Poop Is Important: 7 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Why Picking Up Dog Poop Is Important: 7 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Owner cleaning up after the dog with plastic bag

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Owning a dog sometimes stinks—literally. Part of being a dog owner is picking up poop daily, whether in the yard, at the dog park, or during your walks.

Unfortunately, too many dog owners neglect to pick up after their dogs. They may have forgotten to bring a poop bag or are in a hurry. Some don’t see the big deal about not picking up poop. The rain will just wash it away, or it will quickly break down. Right?

Wrong. Leaving dog poop on the ground isn’t just wildly irresponsible. It’s also harmful to other pets, people, and the environment.


The 7 Reasons Why You Should Pick Up After Your Dog

1. Dog Poop Can Spread Diseases and Bacteria

Dog poop can contain several types of parasites, bacteria, and viruses that can make humans and other animals sick. Serious illnesses like salmonella, giardia, E. Coli, and parvovirus can be spread through fecal matter. Tapeworms and ringworms can also be spread through dog poop.

These pathogens can linger in the ground for months or even years. That means that dog poop you left on the ground today can end up endangering other dogs and people for a long time after.

a great dane pooping outside on grass
Image Credit: Victoria Rak, Shutterstock

2. Fecal Matter Contaminates the Environment

If you think it’s okay to let the rain wash away your dog’s poop, you’re mistaken. Sure, rainwater will take the waste away, but it will also bring along the harmful bacteria and chemicals contained in dog waste.

All of that bad stuff, including the poop itself, can ultimately end up contaminating watersheds, rivers, streams, and other sources of water. Some of those will also get absorbed into the soil, polluting the land around it.

In other words, you’re creating unsanitary conditions not only for the environment but for you, your dog, and everyone around you.

3. Dog Poop Can Kill Plants and Lawns

Some pet owners defend not picking up after their dog—especially in grassy areas—because it can be used as fertilizer. This is a myth and a dangerous one.

Sure, the feces of some animals, like cows, can be used as fertilizer for fields and gardens. The difference is that these animals eat plant matter, not the high-protein diet of most canines.

Because of that diet, dog waste has high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. Instead of nourishing plants and grass, these can burn lawns and kill greenery. The pathogens in dog poop can also contaminate vegetables and fruits in the surrounding area.

Puppies Of Labrador Retriever dog Sitting On The Lawn
Image Credit: sobaka777, Shutterstock

4. Dog Waste Takes a Long Time to Decompose

Dog poop decays slowly. It can take as long as a year or more for dog feces to completely decompose. That’s a long time for bacteria, parasites, and other harmful stuff to linger in the environment.

5. It’s Gross and Unsanitary

Not picking up your dog’s poop is the height of disrespect to those around you. It smells terrible and looks gross. It’s also a surefire way to ruin someone’s day when they step on it, or their dog tries to eat it.

Labrador retriever pooping on the street
Image By: APIWICH PUDSUMRAN, Shutterstock

6. It Ruins Things for Other Dog Owners

The fastest way to get dogs banned in pet-friendly places is to not pick up after them. It only takes one complaint for an establishment to become off-limits to all dog owners. It also gives pet parents a bad reputation, including those who do clean up after their dogs.

7. It’s Required by Law

Many countries, states, and localities have laws in place that require pet owners to pick up after their dogs. In some places, the offense can come with hefty fines and may even be considered a misdemeanor.

signing papers and documents
Image By: smolaw, Shutterstock


Tips for Picking Up After Your Dog

All dog owners should pick up after their dogs—that’s clear. But we’re also human, and there are times when it’s hard to remember or can be difficult to do. To minimize those instances and make it easier for you, here are some tips:

  • Always carry poop bags with you when walking your dog. So, don’t forget to put some bags in your pocket.
  • Feel icky about picking up poop? Get a pooper scooper, so you don’t have to handle it with your hands or get too close.
  • Don’t throw the potty bag in other people’s trash bins. Keep it with you until you get home. Not everyone is okay with you leaving your dog’s waste in their trash.
  • Never let your dog go potty in other people’s yards. Instead, stick to designated areas or the sidewalk.
  • Try training your dog to go potty before your walk, so you don’t have to worry about it during your stroll.



The joys of being a dog owner come with a certain amount of responsibility, and picking up poop is one of them. Cleaning up after your pet will help keep everyone in the area safe and happy—especially your pup.

Featured Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

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