October 25, 2022
5 Ways to be a More Sustainable Pet Owner
Have you ever found yourself asking, “Is it environmentally friendly to have a pet?”. Well, with 471 million pet dogs and around 370 million cats already kept as pets, worldwide, some might feel as though there are too many already, particularly when you consider the question of their environmental impact.
Because whilst pets undoubtedly confer innumerable benefits on our daily lives; emotional support, exercise, and routine to name just three; their impact on the environment is less positive. You might be amazed to hear, for instance, that your dog’s environmental impact is considered greater than that of running a family SUV car.
If you are trying your best to live sustainably, then this may come as a bit of a downer. Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to reduce your pet’s carbon paw print and move towards more sustainable pet ownership. Read on to discover 5 different ways you can become a more sustainable pet owner.
1. Buy Sustainable Pet Food
One of the biggest areas your animal is impacting the planet is with the food they eat. Mostly meat-based, the production of dog food typically requires the use of lots of land, and water and adds to the build-up of greenhouse gases.
Questionable Farm Conditions
A large portion of pet food is made up from using the parts of the animal that don’t go into the human food chain – that’s a good thing, right? Well, if you’re a supporter of animal welfare, then you may be saddened to realise that you might be supporting factory farming processes where animals are kept (and killed) in less-than-ideal conditions.
Using Ethically-Minded Companies
By using an ethically-minded company, you as a pet owner have full traceability of where your pet food’s ingredients came from. This gives you the chance to make an informed decision on the food you are buying for your pet, and the chance to be a more sustainable pet owner, overall, as a result.
Opt for Free-Range Products
Look for brands that are using free-range animals such as wild boar or sustainably-caught tuna approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
Swapping from beef to wild boar, for instance, due to their naturally-foraged diet, wild lives, and lack of agriculture reduces the carbon footprint of the meat in your dog’s diet by a staggering 98%.
The other ingredients in pet food, notably cereals and vegetables can also have an impact so check where these are being produced too.
Using an ethically-minded company should also reassure you that the way they manage their company also is geared towards being as environmentally friendly as possible too. Cycle-to-work schemes, use of green technology, and waste disposal all are seen as good employer practices.
We buy lots for our pets; whether it’s food, toys, beds, feeding bowls, leads, collars or coats, we tend to spoil them. Where you can, look to buy items with recyclable packaging, or even better, with no packaging whatsoever.
Also, look out for items made from recycled materials. Lots of dog toys are made from plastic, but more sustainable materials are bamboo, hemp, and rubber. There are a lot of eco-friendly dog products in the UK and beyond, so shop around and make your cash make a difference.
You can also join toy swapping sites (we all know that one dog who turns up its nose at that one particular toy) where you can get your pup something for nothing if you have a toy, or two, to swap.
You can also make your own toys from items around the house. The cardboard cylinders from kitchen rolls make excellent treat “hidey holes”, whilst old cotton sweatshirts, when plaited, are great for tug-o-war!
3. Waste Disposal
One of the biggest environmental issues caused by pets (particularly dogs) is their poop. Dogs create a lot of it and the way in which we dispose of it can make a huge difference. The best way to get rid of dog matter is to use compostable poop bags and take it home to compost in your own garden.
If you use plastic dog poop bags, then they end up in landfill and will never decompose fully. They leach chemicals and microplastics into our soil and eventually water courses, which in turn damages our planet’s ecosystems.
If you use cat litter, then look for a brand that’s using sustainable materials such as corn or other plant-based materials – there are even brands that are using walnut shells as the basis for their kitty litter!
4. Adopt, Don’t Buy
If you’re looking to get a new pet, then consider rehoming your furry friend instead of buying from a breeder. With thousands of dogs and cats in shelters, it’s a much kinder option for the animal (and the planet) to adopt your new four-legged companion.
You can also be sure when adopting a pet, that the charity will have looked after your pet both ethically and responsibly. With so many businesses seeing puppies as a “get rich” option, and with no official regulation, you can’t always be certain that your pet has been bred in the correct manner.
Charities also try to expand awareness of issues relating to animal cruelty and population growth so by choosing a pet from them, you too can be part of supporting these kinds of initiatives.
Think twice before getting in the car to take your dog for a walk. All those short journeys add up and you’ll be amazed at just how much your eco-footprint can be reduced by leaving the car at home.
Even built-up areas can have interesting backwaters and lovely parks to explore. Join a dog walking group in your area, as they’ll have sussed out the best routes to take your dog or puppy.
Dogs love to sniff and an urban environment is actually extremely enriching for them. If you do want to go into the countryside or visit a beach, look to see if there are pet-friendly public transport options, which are not only more eco-friendly, but also more relaxing for you.
With more of us owning pets than ever before, it’s never been as important to promote responsible pet ownership, which not only means being a good pet owner, but also ensuring that you’re doing everything possible to protect the environment, too. We’ve highlighted some of the easiest ways you can make a difference, so make that change today!