Looks like Fido is at it again.

But leaving your pet’s poop on a quiet, grassy corner of the park is just adding to the environment, right? Not so much. There are approximately 89.7 million dogs living in the US, and experts estimate that man’s best friend produces about 21.2 billion pounds of waste each year.

As part of celebrating National Pet Month, there are three important things to remember when taking care of your pet while your pet is taking care of business, and all three will ensure better health for you and your pet.

1. Poop is not fertilizer.

Unlike steer manure, which is a popular medium for your garden, dog waste does not contain plant-fortifying nutrients. To prove this point, consider the animal’s diet. “Dog’s [sic] have a high protein based diet that creates a very acidic excrement or waste product,” explain experts at poop911.com. “Cow manure is in fact good for vegetation because it in fact started out that way.” If left unattended, pet waste can take up to one year to decompose, which gives it plenty of time to leech toxins and bacteria into your lawn, and that isn’t good for your lawn or your health.

2. Pet waste is filled with harmful bacteria.

Did you know that one gram of dog poop contains 23 million fecal bacteria? “Even if your dog doesn’t show any symptoms of illness, 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.” Bacteria can seep into the soil and potentially contaminate public waterways.

3. It smells bad.

It doesn’t take long for a favorite drop-off zone to be overrun with pet waste, and that creates a pile of problems. Along with the strong odor, uncollected waste attracts insects, rodents, and other germ-carrying pests. Remember: It only takes a minute to bag up pet waste and place it in the trash. That brief moment can make a huge difference for your health and surroundings.

We love our pets. As we celebrate how much our pets mean to us, 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.