Rosie is starting to whine and scratch at the door. It must be time for a walk, but with a conference call in 15 minutes, do you really have time to follow her and pick up afterward? Or can you just get away with leaving her droppings in a corner of the courtyard and quickly head back inside? Leaving a dog’s poop on the lawn is just adding to the environment, right?

Nope. There are approximately 21 billion pounds of dog waste produced each year from nearly 90 million dogs in the US. In honor of National Pet Month, let’s explore the three important things to remember when taking care of your pet’s business. Each of these three reminders will ensure better health for your pet and the world we live in.

1. Dog droppings are not fertilizer.

Unlike cow manure—which, when mixed with topsoil, is perfect for growing a lush garden—dog poop does not contain plant-fortifying nutrients. Compare the diet of your dog to the diet of a cow. “Dog’s [sic] have a high protein based diet that creates a very acidic excrement or waste product,” explain experts at “Cow manure is in fact good for vegetation because it in fact started out that way.” Pet waste can also take up to a year to decompose, allowing plenty of time for toxins and bacteria to leech into a lawn.

2. Dog waste is loaded with harmful bacteria.

It has been proven that one gram of dog poop contains 23 million fecal bacteria. Even if your pup isn’t ill, “their waste could still carry bacteria and parasites that are harmful to other pets and humans,” says pet expert Jean Marie Bauhaus. “And you don’t need to come into direct contact with dog poop in order to contract an illness from it.” That bacteria can seep into the soil and possibly contaminate public waterways.

3. It stinks.

It doesn’t take long for a favorite drop-off zone to be overrun with pet waste, creating a pile of problems. In addition to the stench, uncollected dog waste attracts rodents, insects, and other germ-carrying pests. While it might seem inconvenient, it really only takes a minute to bag up pet waste and toss it in the trash. That minute can make a huge difference for your health and surroundings.

As we celebrate how much we adore our pets, let’s remember that it’s just as important to take care of the waste our furry friends create as it is to care for our pets themselves.