Being a dog owner can mean you’re not necessarily as eco-friendly as first thought. Now, don’t take that in the wrong way — it’s not necessarily that you or your dog are anti-environment. It’s more so that owning a dog, let alone a pet, means you’ll have to try harder to be eco-friendly.
It can be tough having a dog, plus the animals themselves require things that can be pretty pricey if you want them to be safe for the environment. Whether it’s in your dog’s waste’s contamination, waste bags’ non-biodegradability, poor quality production for dog food, or much more, a lot is impacting the environment just by taking care of your dog.
So, here are five tips to be an eco-friendly dog owner!
Tip 1: Invest in Sustainable Pet Food
According to a 2017 report, dogs and cats in the US alone eat 25% of the country’s meat calories, with 13.6 million cars worth of greenhouse emissions going into that meat production. That’s a lot.
It’s also why so many people are moving to sustainable pet food — food made of more natural ingredients, raised in a much less detrimental way to the environment. These include brands like Wild Earth, whose entire spiel is the concept of 100% plant-based, high-protein dog food, created without CO2 heavy meat and unknown ingredients.
Alongside these commercial brands, you can even grow your own pet food from peas, lentils, oats, rice, yeast, and more. It’s great not only for you and your dog, cutting out the preservatives and artificial chemicals, but it’s also great for the environment.
Tip 2: Clean Up After Your Dog, Cleanly
Dog waste is incredibly acidic and can seriously damage the area around your property. In addition, it’s neither good for the ground nor the animals nearby. Luckily, just by picking it up and composting it, you not only help yourself, but you also help the environment.
The same concept applies to doggie bags, too, meaning that even if you’re not composing, choosing the suitable bags means helping the environment. These bags, made from resins, are built from plants, vegetable oils, and polymers, all of which can be successfully decomposed and reintroduced to the environment.
So, you can do your yard and the environment a great effort just by swapping to compostable doggie bags and putting all your dog’s waste into a composter. After everything composts, you can even use the new fertilizer to help grow plants for your sustainable dog food! So, there’s really no downside to this tip, especially considering that sustainable bags and composters have dropped in cost dramatically over time.
Tip 3: Spay or Neuter Your Dog
Not only does spaying or neutering your dog prevent it from having children that might not be taken care of, but en masse, it prevents millions of dogs and cats from going unadopted every year. After all, millions of animals are put down simply because there are too many of them.
This simple step cuts down on the amount of potentially wasteful products and food necessary to take care of your dog, in addition to slowly reducing the massive amount of damage done by unadopted animals. Overcrowding is a serious environmental issue and spaying or neutering is a straightforward and very effective way to put an end to it.
Plus, as explained by multiple vets, like BuenaVet.com, the process can also be crucial to ensuring that your animal is healthy, long-term, in addition to all the previously mentioned benefits to the environment.
Tip 4: Choose the Right Dog Toys
Even though it seems like you may be getting good use out of a dog toy, if it’s been used for a few years, the process to create and then get rid of the toy hasn’t.
Dog toys are generally made of harmful plastics and rubbers, either hard to create or challenging to get rid of. After all, we don’t even have a way to take care of 50% of all plastics made for single-use items. As such, it’s vital to make sure that you’re getting your dog a toy that’s not only safe for them (plastics and rubber can be dangerous to animals as they degrade) but also safe for the environment.
Most sustainable/zero-waste dog toys are made of ex-dog toys. This is usually through upcycling or another recycling process, whether old toys and other rubber or plastic items are reused. Usually, the procedures also remove some harmful chemicals from the plastic or rubber and add safer and more eco-friendly parts in return. Through these methods, you can still choose a high-quality dog toy without paying the environmental cost.
Tip 5: Use Non-Toxic Chemicals
While this doesn’t necessarily seem too relatable on the surface, it is once you realize what it entails — flea and tick medication, shampoo, grooming materials, and more.
These are generally made from chemicals that might be safe for your dog but aren’t for the environment. For example, toxic products contain ingredients such as Methoprene or pyriproxyfen, which are hard-to-pronounce and hard for the environment to stomach.
They can cause health issues for pollinators and potentially children, harming both the environment and your family. The chemicals can also potentially be harmful to your dog over the long term, meaning it could cause more damage than what you were trying to avoid.
That’s why companies offer shampoos and products made with oatmeal, aloe, and other healthy ingredients, that are both better for the environment and your dog. They’re even good smelling and can help smooth skin!
Taking Care of Your Dog
Of course, these are only a few options. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different ways to be an eco-friendly dog owner, although it’s important to find ones that work.
If you’re too focused on helping the environment, you could hurt your dog or vice versa. There’s a lot of potential to help you, your family, property, environment, and dog, but only if you take the initiative. That’s why it’s essential to use as many of these tips as you can, even if you’re just one person. As the more people use them, the more the world and the environment benefit.