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As a responsible dog owner, you know it’s important to pick up your dog’s poop. But what happens after that? Trapped in a plastic bag that can take 1,000 years to decompose, your dog’s poop might remain in a landfill for generations to come.
Whether you’re concerned about your dog leaving behind a legacy of plastic-entombed fecal fossils, or you’re just tired of struggling with sub-par bags, this comprehensive list will help you find the best poop bags to take care of your dog’s daily deposit.
Have you ever wondered if it would be better to ditch the bags and just stop picking up your dog’s poop entirely? After all, nobody cleans up after bears, foxes, and other wild creatures that poop out in nature. But while your local ecosystem can handle feral feces, doggy doo is an entirely different story.
First, there’s a much higher concentration of dogs than wild animals in the U.S. With over 48 million dogs nationwide, each making one-to-three deposits per day, that’s a lot of poop. Whether you live in a population-dense city or a small town, unbagged dog poop is a major source of water pollution. Every time it rains or snows, abandoned dog poop is washed into the storm drains, contaminating local waterways.
Even healthy, fully vaccinated dogs shed harmful microorganisms in their feces, including parasites like roundworms and bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli. Also, feces contain nutrients that cause algae in local bodies of water to overgrow. Overgrown algae then suffocates fish and produces cyanobacteria that can be fatal to humans, dogs, and other creatures.
Environmental concerns aside, picking up your dog’s poop is simply the right thing to do. Nobody likes stepping in poop. What’s more, most jurisdictions have pooper scooper laws with fines that range from $75 to $500.
So, what should you do with your dog’s poop? EPA recommends either disposing of dog poop in the trash or flushing it down the toilet, where it will end up at your local sewage treatment center.
Since packing up poop is a no-brainer, there are several factors that matter most when choosing a method, including where you walk, size and number of dogs you have, and how you want to dispose of your bags.
Consider where your daily walks take you. If you and your dog rarely venture beyond your neighborhood, flushable bags are a great choice. For longer hikes, choose scented bags that prevent odors from seeping out during all-day adventures.
Most poop bags come in the standard size: 9” x 13”. If you have a large dog, oversized bags, preferably with handles, will take care of their entire mess in one go with plenty of room to tie a knot. Thick, leakproof bags resist developing holes when torn off the roll, and also tend to be better at keeping odors contained.
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When it comes to shrinking your dog’s carbon paw print, keep in mind that not all products with a green label are alike. Some dog poop bags are made of “oxo-biodegradable” plastic, which means they’ve been treated with metal salts to help speed up their breakdown in landfills. A step up from conventional plastic, oxo-biodegradable bags turn into small fragments, or “micro-plastics” which will unfortunately remain in the environment.
The most eco-friendly option: compostable dog poop bags which are plant-based. These bags contain no plastic, but don’t necessarily break down quickly in a landfill. In the aerated, high temperature conditions of an industrial composting facility, compostable bags break down within 180 days. However, dog poop bags are generally not accepted at compost facilities.
Landfills lack the oxygen, bacteria, and moisture required to help compostable materials break down. Even so, compostable bags are made of plant-based, renewable materials, so compared to traditional plastic bags or oxo-biodegradable bags, their manufacturing process is better for the planet. While makers can’t guarantee that they will break down quickly, plant-based bags leave behind no plastic fragments when they do finally decompose.
While eco-conscious options took over much of this list, we realize that dog owners cannot sacrifice cleanliness for earth-friendliness. Each of these products is made by a well-known manufacturer with high standards for quality control. I considered the materials, design features, size, and price, as well as customer reviews to determine how well the bags work in real-life situations. I recommend these premium poop bags to minimize stress, smells, and needless waste on your next dog walk.
When it comes to earth-friendliness and ease of use, these Heart of Tafiti bags get double points. They’re made from plant-based vegetable starches and can be composted leaving behind zero plastic in landfills. The company recommends burying them in warm, moist soil. The extra-large bags have handles, but unlike most handled-bags, they come on a roll that fits in most dispensers. Some reviewers complained that the rolls were too large to fit dispensers from other brands, though the company does sell their own dispensers that will fit the bags perfectly.
Dog poop bags from Earth Rated are a serious upgrade from conventional bags. Their handles are designed so that you’ll have no trouble finding the open end, and they’re easier to tie closed than handle-free bags. Once filled, they’re easier to carry. These bags are also extra-wide, suitable for large dogs, and can even work double-duty by helping you clean out your cat’s litterbox. Though they don’t fit in roll holders, the box dispenses single bags like a tissue box that can fit in your car’s glove compartment. Earth Rated uses recycled materials to create their packaging, and the bags are oxo-biodegradable.
These flushable dog poop bags dissolve in water; just toss the untied bag into the toilet and flush. They break down more quickly in hot water, so they won’t instantly melt in your toilet, - or while you’re using them. They’re made of Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA), the same material used to wrap dissolvable detergent pods. Similarly, they begin breaking down soon after they come in contact with moisture; for instance, rain, snow, or runny dog droppings. These bags are thick enough to protect your hands and keep even large wastes contained. They’re also compostable, so you can toss used bags in the trash when you’re far from a bathroom.
If picking up your dog’s poop makes your stomach turn, Mutt Mitt is the way to go. The opaque, 2-ply “mitt” at the bottom protects your hand not only from the mess, but also from the radiating warmth of fresh poo. Like a traditional bag, you just place your hand inside, grab the feces, turn it inside out, and then tie it off. Once tied, these heavy-duty bags are airtight, keeping odors safely locked inside until you reach the next trash can.
GAS dog poop bags are made up of 100 percent botanical plant components: cornstarch, BPAT (biodegradable and compostable polymer), and edible glycerin. They break down in commercial and home compost systems, and though most commercial compost facilities won’t take them, you can compost these bags, poop intact, in your home compost bin. Just make sure you’re only using your compost for non-edible plants like your lawn or flower garden. Though they break down more easily than plastic, they’re also strong and thick to protect your hands from mess and odor. While most bags are around 13 microns thick, GAS bags tout 18 microns of thickness—roughly 30 percent more than your typical poop bag. Printed with a cartoon doggy pattern, it’s also super-easy to tell which end to open.
SVD Pet Waste Bags are made of certified compostable cornstarch-based material, and like the Heart of Tafiti and Give A Sh!T Poop Bags, they’re free of plastic. What makes these bags stand out is the dispenser that comes with them. Featuring a patent-pending design, the dispenser has a dial for retracting unused bags back onto the roll. This eliminates the need to dismantle the holder to manually re-roll the bags when you accidentally pull the roll out too far. Never again will you be left with a streamer of bags flapping in the wind behind you and your pup. When you finish off the included bags, you can refill the dispenser with any standard-sized roll.
If you dispose of used dog poop bags in your indoor trash, the odor can waft through your home until you empty the whole garbage can. Arm & Hammer’s poop bags have built-in activated baking soda to neutralize the acids in the poop that causes bad odor. They also have a light, fresh scent for double the odor control. While they’re not made of earth-friendly materials, the odor control properties may at least enable you to use the same bag for multiple clean-ups, resulting in less waste.
These poop bags from Five Star Pet have an embossed texture that make them incredibly easy to open. They’re great for walks in winter weather— when you’re wearing gloves or your fingers are cold and stiff. People with disabilities, arthritis, or chronic pain may also find them easier to use than conventional bags. They’re oversized at 9” x 15”, with extra length for picking up large or messy droppings with plenty of room to tie a knot. Thick, opaque, and available in black, blue, and purple, they disguise both the scent and sight of their contents.
At a generous 18” in length (with tie handles), 5” side gussets and a liquid capacity of 2.8 gallons, the GoGo Stik X-Large Heavy Dootie bags are the biggest bags on our list. They’re perfect for picking up oversized No. 2’s from giant breeds like the Saint Bernard or Great Dane, and also work well for picking up multiple poops when cleaning up after a smaller dog. They’re designed for use with the GoGo Stik pooper scooper, which allows you to scoop poop without bending or squatting, as well as make it possible to “catch” poops as they emerge from your dog—yes, really! They can also be used without the device, though they come in a box, not on a roll, so they won’t fit a standard dispenser.
Dog Poop Scooper With Bag Unlike other earth-friendly options, Pooch Paper is fully biodegradable and compostable. Consisting of recycled, unbleached paper sheets made from softwood pulp, Pooch Paper has a water-resistant coating. This works a bit differently than a bag: you use a sheet to pick up the poop, bring the corners together, and twist to keep the contents inside. Then, you can toss it in any garbage or compost bin.