How to be a sustainable pet owner


Pets are amazing – they reduce the anxiety and loneliness of so many people, especially in the last year of sporadic closures and working from home. Last summer, one shelter in particular saw over 30% increase in dog adoptions compared to 2019. But in an increasingly climate-changing world, there’s a lot to consider about an animal’s carbon footprint.

“I love dogs and cats, and I certainly don’t recommend people to get rid of their pets or put them on a vegetarian diet, which would be unhealthy,” said Gregory Okin, professor of geography at the ‘UCLA. author of a 2017 article on the environmental impacts of pet ownership, noted in a press release. “But I think we should consider all the impacts of pets so that we can have an honest conversation about them. Pets have many benefits, but also a huge environmental impact.

Manage animal waste responsibly

When it comes to pet ownership, especially dogs, dog owners should make sure that they properly dispose of their dog’s feces instead of leaving them on the floor. If their waste is left on the ground, especially around rainfall, it can enter waterways, which can make people and marine life sick.

“[Dog waste] also contains nitrogen and phosphorus, which contribute to slime and sometimes toxic algae outbreaks,” said Jon Devin, Senior NRDC Water Program Advocate in a blog post Publish.

[Related: How to help your pet with separation anxiety.]

Of course, always make sure to pick up your dog’s feces and throw them away instead of leaving them outside. But not all disposable bags and throwing methods are created equal. Biodegradable bags in particular can be deceptive and only really work if you take good care of them flushing (make sure your bags can be flushed down the toilet), burying waste, or test the composting of dog waste.

Cats are a little trickier – although you can train them to use the toilet, there are potential issues for both the cat and our water system paired with a potty trained cat. However, there are several eco-friendly cat litter options for your feline friends who won’t cause the same health concerns than traditional clay products.

Protect your pet and other animals when you go out

Cat owners should consider keeping their cats indoors. According to a 2013 study in Nature Communication, outdoor cats can kill billions of birds in a year, which is especially harmful if a cat’s owner lives near endangered bird species.

Having pets strictly indoors can also prevent unwanted litters and may reduce your need for elimination or prevention of tougher fleas and ticks. Of course, you still need to protect your animals from pests, and some more sustainable options for this are as simple as clean your pet’s litter box regularly with soap and hot water.

Another method, especially for animals with fur or longer hair, is to groom and comb them regularly so that potential fleas don’t go unnoticed before they spread to other animals or people in the same household. . If you find a few fleas on your pet, you can give it a bath with Dawn dish soap in a pinch. However, this method does not prevent fleas from returning and is more of a temporary fix according to some veterinarians.

Sometimes there is a flea infestation that is too bad not to use the most common chemicals. The Natural Resource Defense Council recommends using chemicals like s-methoprene or pyriproxyfen, which are less toxic ingredients for flea control. Avoid products that contain synthetic neonicotinoids like imidacloprid and dinotefuran which are harmful to bees and young children.

Rethink every toy purchase and reuse what you can

Bringing a furry friend into your life is a long-term commitment, which requires toys, food, clean waterbeds, leashes, etc. As much as we love to spoil our pets, buying too many items and toys can be wasteful, especially if the pet doesn’t use them often.

One way to avoid waste is to DIY toys for this animal out of household materials that it can play with safely. There are a number of guides online, including one for dog toys that can be made from household items like old t-shirts and towels. This is especially useful for pets that use a lot of toys due to their size and energy.

Another way to browse pet supplies can be to search social media groups where other pet owners donate or sell used items at an affordable price. This ensures that items that are still good for everyday use don’t get thrown away and sit in a landfill. When a pet dies, it’s best to see if some of their items can be reused (after cleaning) by other families with pets.

Ecological food options

Finding eco-friendly pet food options can be a bit tricky depending on the animal, especially considering the number pet options are animal-based, which creates a higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods.

“What we do know is that about 25% of the protein raised in the United States goes to feed pets, so that’s a big impact,” Caitlyn Dudas, executive director of the Companion Animal Sustainability Coalition, told Forbes, “and it’s also a huge opportunity for this industry to really think critically about the role we play in sustainably regenerating our farming communities and farmlands in the United States.”

[Related: What you need to know before bringing a puppy home for your kids.]

However, that doesn’t mean there are no options. Consider purchasing food from pet food companies that strive to reduce their carbon footprint. Some of them include Purina which strives to make 100% reusable packaging or recyclable by 2025 and Hill’s Pet Nutrition launching a recyclable bag in Europe this year and working to launch ready-to-recycle packaging in the US by 2022.

You can also consider adding grains and vegetables to some of your pets’ food or swapping out unhealthy bones and treats for crunchy carrots or apples. If you are considering going completely vegetarian for your dog (something that is simply not possible for cats), be sure to talk to your veterinarian first.

“It’s theoretically possible to feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it’s much easier to get it wrong than to get it right,” said Dos Santos, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). told the BBC. “You should do this under the supervision of a veterinary-trained nutritionist.”


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