We all know about the dangers of climate change at this point. And most of us are doing just about everything we can to limit our effects on the environment. But what about our pets? How can we promote sustainable dog ownership and lower our dog’s carbon paw print?
Get creative with toys & pet supplies
Before you purchase new pet toys or supplies, think twice. Think about if the item you’re about to purchase is actually for your dog or if it’s more just something you personally like. (Remember, dogs can’t see those pretty bright colors, so they don’t care about being stylish!). You can make rope toys from old clothes or sheets. You know you’re dog is just going to destroy them anyway, right?!
If you dog really does need toys or other pet supplies, try trading or buying used first. If that doesn’t work out and you really do need to purchase new, do your homework first. Make sure to look for toys made from sustainable and/ or recyclable materials.
For feeding or water bowls, stick with BPA-free if you have to go with plastic, or use glass or other sustainable materials if possible. And at the other end of the lifespan, try to avoid having your pet’s used toys and supplies end up in a landfill. You can donate them to local shelters or try trading with other dog owners.
Make sure your pet eats as sustainably as possible.
Just like humans, what your pet is eating makes up a big part of their carbon footprint. Take a good look at the ingredients on your pet’s food and treats. Make sure they contain natural, sustainably sourced ingredients. Try to avoid meat heavy foods if possible, as meat uses more resources to produce and process than other food products.
Products made with an oatmeal base are more sustainable than those with corn or grains. Corn, which is the most commonly used pet food ingredient, requires much more water to grow and depletes the soil of nitrogen and other nutrients. Growing oats doesn’t damage the air, water, or soil the way other crops do, so oats are relatively sustainable. At Pampered Pets, we believe that oatmeal makes us better, and all of our flavored pet treats are made from an oatmeal base.
If there is palm oil in your pet’s food, make sure it’s sustainable palm oil (and that it’s certified as such by The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). Sustainable palm oil means that it’s harvested with no deforestation in biodiversity or fragile areas, that there’s a reduced use of pesticides and fires, and that workers and local communities are treated fairly.
And don’t forget to take into account all that packaging and shipping! Look for local (or at least USA-made) products to reduce the carbon output from shipping. If possible choose products packaged in recycled and recyclable packaging. Try to avoid plastic containers and waste that will end up in the landfill. (At Pampered Pets, our packaging is made from recycled plastic bottles and milk jugs – in a solar-powered factory right here in the USA!)
Watch the (dog) waste.
Dog waste is always a problem for all dog owners, but especially for those who are more concerned with sustainable dog ownership. Always, always, pick it up, especially if it’s going to rain. Waste can get into sewers and make marine animals sick. Look for alternatives to the plastic bags, or at least use recycled plastic to collect dog waste.
Keep an eye out for toxic chemicals.
If you’re trying to be green, watching out for toxic chemicals is probably something you’re already doing naturally. If you use a chemical flea treatment on your pet, keep in mind that they can’t have a bath or go swimming for at least a week afterwards. Flea & tick treatments contaminate rivers and lakes, can kill off important microorganisms, and even leave harmful neurotoxins in the water supply. See our post on all-natural flea & tick solutions for more environmentally-friendly solutions.
Sustainable pet ownership means helping control the pet population.
There are so many more pets out there that need our love and support that we can’t possibly take care of all of them. Helping control the pet population is one huge step we can take towards sustainable dog ownership. Adopting rescue pets is much better for the pets and the environment than purchasing from a breeder or pet store. And Bob Barker was very right to keep reminding us to spay or neuter our pets. Spaying or neutering helps the environment by controlling the pet population. But, not only that, spayed and neutered pets actually have a better quality of life, a reduced risk of illness, and are less likely to become strays. Plus, they can actually have a longer lifespan! Spayed female dogs can live 23% longer, and neutered male dogs up to 18% longer, according to The Humane Society. So doing your part for sustainable dog ownership can actually help you have more time with your pet.