Pet Waste and National Love Your Pet Day

county of san diego watershed protection program


Dog running at the beach in the water

Sharing the Love for Our Waterways on National Love Your Pet Day

February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day! We know how much everyone loves their pets AND their waterways. Did you know that every time you pick up after your pet or properly bathe your pet, you’re helping to keep our waterways safe and healthy? Pollutants like bacteria in pet waste or chemicals in shampoos can easily wash into our storm drains and waterways. Unlike sanitary sewers, runoff that flows through our storm drains is not treated, which can degrade our water quality, harm aquatic life, and even cause illness in humans. By preventing polluted runoff from entering our streets and storm drains, not only are you creating a safe, clean environment for your pets and community, but you’re also playing a key role in improving the quality of our water and preserving the beauty of our waterways and ocean for years to come.

Celebrate the love for YOUR pet and OUR waterways by practicing these common tips to keep your pets and our waterways safe, healthy, and clean!

Pet Waste:

  • On walks, carry extra bags, bag the waste, and place it in trash containers (or pet waste disposal containers) provided in your communities, at parks, and along trails. Be mindful that even in leash-free areas, like fenced dog parks, you are responsible for picking up after your pet. Learn how to make your own doggie bag carrier from upcycled materials here.
  • Around your yard, clean up pet waste at least weekly and dispose of it in a trash bin with a secure lid. Or you can use toilet paper to pick it up and flush it down the toilet where it will be treated effectively through the sanitary sewer system.
  • On larger properties/rural areas, cleanup efforts can feel overwhelming. Pick up pet waste weekly and target your clean up areas and efforts close to water sources such as creeks, streams, lakes; along slopes, ravines, and drainage ditches; and in areas susceptible to water runoff from rain or irrigation. Learn more about pet waste cleanup on larger/rural properties.
  • Involve kids in San Diego County’s Award-Winning Poo Points Program which engages youth in educating community members about protecting water quality by picking up dog waste on private property. Contact the County at to learn more.

Pet Bathing:

  • Manage water runoff when washing your pets. If bathing your pets indoors, wash smaller animals in a sink or tub so the water goes down the drain to the sanitary sewer system. When washing pets outdoors, do not allow wash water to reach the storm drain system. Instead, wash them on a lawn or over a landscaped area where wash water can be absorbed by the soil without runoff.
  • Use chemical-free detergents. Pet shampoos or detergents may contain harsh chemicals which can cause ecological problems. Look for biodegradable or natural alternatives when bathing your pets. However, even biodegradable soaps should not be washed into storm drains.

Horses and Livestock need a little love too! For a variety of resources on preventing pollution from horse and livestock activities, see our Horses and Livestock page and guidebook on Equine Best Management Practices for horse owners and facilities.

Visit our Watershed Protection Program page for more ways to keep our communities and waterways safe, healthy, and clean!

Pet Waste Bags


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project clean water

Project Clean Water efforts are focused on providing a centralized point of access to water quality information and resources for San Diego County Watersheds. Click HERE to visit Project Clean Water’s website. 

To learn more about the County of San Diego - Watershed Protection Program, please visit