If you’re an eco-conscious pet parent and are looking for ways to diminish your furry friend’s ecological paw print, look no further! We’ve compiled some tips below on how you can better integrate sustainability into the life you share with your four-legged friend.
#1 Switch things up with sustainable pet food
A study done in 2017 found that the millions of dogs and cats in the US contribute greenhouse gas emissions that are equivalent to 13.6 million cars! To help reduce your contribution to these harmful gases, consider switching it up by purchasing sustainable pet food that’s made from crushed crickets and worms instead of meat or fish. It’s great for the environment and is also nutritionally beneficial! What more can you ask for? Plus, in the recent years, scientists and veterinarians have been concerned about the rise in pet foods that contain ‘human grade meat’, so things like red meat and fish. Though these choices have been gaining popularity across Europe and the United States, research suggests that pet food already contributes to a quarter of environmental impacts of meat production – if it’s safe and healthy to eliminate these options from our furry friends’ diets, why not do it? Though bug-filled kibble may have a negative connotation in the Western world, insects are eaten all over the globe and are known to have high nutritional content of fats and proteins.
There are also other options! More and more pet foods are being made from meat by-products, such as offal, chicken, or rabbit. They have a much lower environmental impact than red meat or fish and are scientifically proven to provide the same nutritional benefits. You can also look at labels on pet food that have sustainability certifications – for example, those with high vegetable content, or have secondary products like animal bone meal or organ meat. All these options have a smaller footprint than human-grade meat. And as always, when choosing canned food, make sure to recycle the cans!
#2 … Or make your own
Always talk to your vet beforehand, but making your own pet food can be a rewarding choice if you put in the research and the effort. Doing so can also help you reduce the amount of package waste you produce through cans, bags, and all the other packaging your pet food comes in. Click here to read all about it!
#3 Limit plastic toys or make it into DIY Project
Even though heading to PetSmart and looking at all the beautifully displayed, colourful rows of toys satisfies pet owners on a visceral level, let’s be real – we all know our cats and dogs would be happy playing with an old cardboard box for the rest of their lives. Plastic toys often end up in landfills where they’ll sit for years, never decomposing, so try making a project out of it and turn your old clothing into a new joy for your cat by converting old shirts or rags into small knotted balls. The wire cages that secure the cork on wine bottles, called muselets, can also be turned into little bugs that your feline friend might enjoy. Just ensure that you’re using pet-safe items that won’t lead to choking hazards.
If you’re not the crafty type, purchase toys made from recyclable materials or natural fibers. West Paw and Henry Barker are great examples of brands that use non toxic, recyclable plastic and use eco friendly fabrics like hemp to make their products.
#4 Use organic pet shampoo
Once making sure it’s nontoxic and free of dyes, switching up your pet’s shampoo with a natural one can be beneficial to your pet’s skin and fur. It also prevents excess chemicals from leaching into the environment. Of course, ask your vet before starting with new products as false advertising is a common tactic in the pet shampoo industry!
#5 Handle pet waste the right way
Studies have shown that animal waste can leak into the water supply and contaminate it. When throwing away your dog’s waste, use bags made of plant-based materials that will decompose. There are also some great options for water-soluble bags that can flush waste down the toilet (but make sure you have a septic system before you do this and check in with your city to make sure it can handle that kind of waste!). Some cat litter brands also use silica dust (harmful to both pets and humans) and toxic ingredients. There are some great cat litter brands that make their litter out of old newspapers and wood chips (Eg Purina and Cedarific).
#6 Take more walks!
Skip the carbon emissions and take a walk with your pup instead the next time you need to pick something up at the grocery store! Everyone needs fresh air, and your dog will love you all the more for it.
#7 Spay and neuter your pets
This one’s an obvious one, but this is one of the best gifts you can give both your furry friend and the environment. By dutifully spaying and neutering your pets, you’re ensuring that there are no more baby animals ending up in shelters or using up environmental resources. Doing it can help control the rampant issue of pet homelessness, and protects your pet against diseases like tumours, testicular cancer, and uterus infections. Making this choice further proves you’re a responsible pet owner!