The best ways to reduce your dog’s carbon footprint
Ahead of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, the government’s COP26 spokeswoman Allegra Stratton proposed these micro-steps the UK public can take to tackle the climate crisis.
Her advice is not to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher and to reduce food waste by putting bread in the freezer. Stratton’s ideas have received some severe criticism for not going far enough in the fight against climate change.
Of course, much more needs to be done if we are to save the planet.
However, the conversation that emerged from this got us thinking about how our pups are contributing to the climate crisis and what we can do to make them more environmentally friendly.
Read on to learn all about a dog’s carbon footprint and some simple steps we can take today to reduce it. A word of warning to pet parents everywhere: The environmental statistics are a shocking read!
The benefits of a dog
Before we start in Everyone the reasons puppies are problematic for the planet, let’s talk exactly about why they are considered man’s best friend.
- They have been shown to improve our mental health and reduce our stress levels.
- They help prevent loneliness
- They keep us fit and encourage us to go out into nature more
A dog’s carbon footprint
For those of you who consider these cute and cuddly fluffy lumps to be family members, there’s bad news: they’re really harmful to the environment.
You may not think about this every time you pat your furry friend on the head, but it is true
They eat proteins like beef and produce mountains of harmful waste. In the US alone, pet owners are responsible for an estimated 3.7 million tons of dog feces each year, with an estimated 9.4 million tons of pet waste over the same period. The production of dog food also requires large amounts of natural resources.
According to studies, pets produce the Equivalent to about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is roughly the same climate impact as driving 13.6 million cars per year.
Broken down into CO2 emissions per dog, this means a the average dog causes around 770 kg of CO2e per year. A A large dog produces a whopping 2,500 kg of CO2e per year.
These are, of course, worrying statistics. so what can we do responsible dog owners?
Fortunately, there are many simple solutions out there that can significantly reduce your dog’s environmental impact. By choosing things like eco-friendly bedding and purchasing biodegradable pet toys, we can keep our dogs quality of life high while reducing our environmental impact. All without breaking the bank.
When it comes to solving climate change, these are just puppy steps. But they are certainly a good place to start.
Choose environmentally friendly foods
We all know that eating meat is bad for the planet. Raising cattle causes deforestation and causes enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. It thus makes a significant contribution to global warming.
According to studies, pets consume up to a fifth of the world’s meat and fish needs. Their predominantly carnivorous diet is the main reason dogs have such a large carbon footprint.
Whether a vegan or vegetarian diet is healthy for dogs is currently a heated debate. Most veterinarians and experts believe that a mix of starches, animal proteins, and fats is best for our canine friends. However, if you want to reduce a dog’s carbon footprint without converting them to a plant-based one, there are a few simple diet changes you can make.
The first and easiest step is to avoid overfeeding your dog. While your pooch can be hard to resist when he begs for more food, remember, obesity is a leading cause of dog health problems. By not overfeeding them, both the planet and your pet will benefit.
Next, be on the lookout for eco-friendly dog ââfood made from sustainably sourced meat and fish. This way, you can meet your pet’s nutritional needs without harming the planet.
Less farmed meats like wild boar can be a good alternative to beef. Thanks to their natural food and the lack of agriculture, the carbon footprint of wild boars is reduced by 83%.
And finally, if you choose eco-friendly products, the packaging should also keep up. Be sure to choose products that are recyclable.
Opt for a compostable or biodegradable poop bag
Perhaps the least glamorous part of dog ownership, dog waste disposal is also a major environmental concern. With over 9.9 million people in the UK owning a dog, nearly 8 billion plastic bags end up in landfills every year. And that stench will stay: an average plastic bag takes around 500 years to break down in a landfill – that is, if it is ever completely broken down.
All of this means that switching to a compostable or biodegradable poop bag is an easy way to reduce your dog’s carbon footprint.
There has been some controversy recently over whether dog waste bag brands have twisted the facts to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. In fact, recent research has shown that brands that claim their bags are compostable haven’t really broken for up to 1000 years.
However there is are some great products out there. Look for plastic-free options made from cornstarch and vegetable oils. Adio-Plastic, Mutts Butts, and Beco Pets all offer these guys of eco-waste bags.
It is important not to flush these bags to the toilet or add them to human compost as dog feces contain harmful pathogens. However, they can be disposed of as usual. Or better yet, they can be added to any carefully managed compost that is used to feed inedible plants. They should decompose over a period of 3 months.
Switch to eco-friendly bedding
When choosing bedding for your puppy, think about how you choose your clothes with the environment in mind.
That means avoiding products made of plastic or polyester. Instead, opt for those made from natural fibers. In contrast to plastic-containing bedding, these products will biodegrade over time and the carbon footprint during manufacture will also be significantly lower. Another plus: These types of fabrics are usually gentler on your puppy’s coat.
This makes it a win-win situation for both your dog and the planet.
Choose environmentally friendly toys
Playtime for puppies can often involve a lot of plastic. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways you can make it greener.
Aside from going outside and playing in nature with your dog, you can also use your creativity (and YouTube videos) to make toys for the home. Just make sure your dog can’t bite off bits of your creation or game time could end with a visit to the vet.
For those of you looking to invest in new dog toys, it is worth doing your research get something ecological and durable. Although there are many non-toxic products made from recycled plastics and organic materials, most are still made from plastics that are difficult to recycle.
Look for products from organic sources. Natural rubber, for example, is drawn from trees sustainably, making it a perfect choice for dogs. Hemp is another great alternative. It grows in abundance, uses few resources and takes up little space, so other crops can be grown in the same fields.
You can also reduce your pup’s use of plastic products by swapping out plastic from their bowl and other accessories. Bamboo, a type of grass, is a good choice because it is both durable and biodegradable.
Whether you view washing and grooming your pooch as fun or a chore, it’s an integral part of pet ownership.
Because it helps you keep your dog’s skin clean and hydrated. It also protects your puppy from pollutants, pollen, and other chemical contaminants that they might come into contact with.
But while cleaning your dog has obvious benefits, choosing the wrong type of products can mean you’re doing more harm than good. When buying dog shampoo with the planet in mind, try to avoid products that contain harsh chemicals that are difficult to pronounce. These are harmful to the environment if washed away and are also not good for your pup.
If you want to get even better, choose a dog shampoo with an ethical accreditation. Like WildWash products, these only use natural ingredients and do not contain any parabens, phthalates, phosphates, petrochemicals, sulfates, palm oils or PEGs.
Take that away
According to studies, dogs have been part of our lives for around 14,000 years. And we want them to bring health and happiness into our lives for thousands more.
But with the planet in crisis and our pets’ carbon emissions playing a worrying role, we need to take action.
So let’s make this beautiful partnership more sustainable and take these simple steps to reduce our dog’s environmental impact.
It is not the solution to the climate crisis, but it is certainly a good start.