I planted some leafy greens on a space of dirt where my dog likes to pee and poo. She has almost certainly pee/pooed on the lettuce, or near the lettuce, a couple of times.

The plant was perpetual spinach. Can I eat it, given that I wash it? Can I eat it if I boil it? Can I eat any plants that are in a space that my dog pees/poos on? The spinach is doing quite well.

  • I would say its cheaper to purchase new lettuce...damn!
    – JonathanC
    Commented Apr 7, 2017 at 18:19

3 Answers 3


Urine from healthy dogs (and humans) is sterile on leaving the body. It can, however, encourage the growth of existing bacteria: so these you would have been exposed to anyway.

Faeces are not sterile at all and fresh faeces from pretty much any animal can be very harmful to humans. Dogs frequently carry parasites which are easily transmitted to humans and can cause a variety of problems - not just on eating but transfer from unwashed hands to eyes can lead to serious eye conditions that may result in blindness (this is why many parks hand out very heavy fines to dog owners that foul these areas).

It is best not to grow salad or root crops in areas that have been fouled, however, stuff that it is harvested away from the splash zone (both rain and urine!) should be safe. Fruit from fruit trees would be unaffected by a dog urinating on the trunk or fouling the root zone.

You initially state lettuce (Lactuca sativa), but then mention perpetual spinach (not actually a spinach at all but a beet Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris). These are not remotely related. Whilst hazards are the same regardless of the species, it does have implications for what you can do with them: lettuce is rarely cooked whereas perpetual spinach is. If you were to cook the plants then this would remove the biological hazard. I would advise against eating any uncooked food that has come into contact with raw faecal matter. Thorough washing may not be sufficient to prevent illness.

As for 'chemicals' found in an unnatural diet the level of exposure in this instance is insignificant. Having worked as chemist I cannot help but chuckle when people get worried about trace contaminants in our environment given the far more serious risks they are prepared to expose themselves to (alcohol, smoking, crossing the road etc.).


I had a large sage plant the was well watered by our dog...I couldn't stand the smell enough to eat it and washing it didn't seem to take that away. We built raised beds about 22" high and plant everything in those now. It all grows better, less weeds, and the dogs can't reach! Sometimes you have to adapt to the environment :)


Just wait some days, possibly water it, and wash it.

Poo and pee are like regular manure. Possibly worse than standard manure because dogs doesn't eat natural stuffs: there is a lot of chemicals (like also in our sewage). And this "manure" it is very fresh, so some parasite eggs could wait for next animal/human.

Probably you have already fight many of your dog parasites, and let's assume she is healthy. If there are many stray dogs, I would make it differently: wait some more time and more watering and washing.

Just for the psychological side, I would make some barrier, so that she will not poo again in your vegetable garden.

  • 3
    Fresh faeces are significantly different to well-rotted manure both in terms of their chemical composition and their bacterial/fungal composition. I would agree though that if the dog lives with you, you will already have been exposed to most of their bacteria, especially given they wash everything with their tongues and then give you 'kisses'. Indeed there was a study that showed that dog owners have very similar oral bacteria to their dogs. Nice. I still wouldn't be without them and to date have never had food poisoning. Maybe I've bolstered by immune system through repeated exposure! Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 13:33

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