It’s estimated that there are over 89 million pet dogs in the US. Almost 40% of American households have at least one dog. There’s no denying that these animals are beloved members of the family.
But have you considered your dog’s carbon paw-print? Research shows that our dogs create the equivalent of about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. This is around the same as a year's worth of driving from 13.6 million cars.
If you’re trying to manage your own carbon footprint on the earth, here are 4 ways you can be an eco-friendly dog owner without much fuss.
How To Be An Eco-Friendly Dog Owner
Buy Eco-Friendly Stuff
Look for dog toys, beds and other supplies that are made with eco-friendly products and made by green manufacturers. Do your research before shopping.
Here are some simple changes you can make:
- Choose a dog collar and leash made from hemp.
- Look for a dog bed made with organic materials. Better yet, get one that you can fill with your own old clothes or sheets.
- If you use a product to clean up accidents, look for something that’s eco-friendly. Better yet, make your own.
- Poop bags are usually biodegradable but check to make sure yours are.
- Recycle your old socks into dog toys. Use old t-shirts for braided rope toys. Dogs don’t mind old tennis balls that have given up the bounce.
Dog waste has a huge environmental impact, even when it’s picked up and placed in the trash.
The alternative is composting. Some people have said that dog waste shouldn’t be composted. It contains pathogens that could be harming. But when dog waste is composted correctly, it’s actually very usable. The key is to “cook” the compost to at least 145 degrees in the pile before turning. It takes about 4-8 weeks for the organic material to break down. Then, use it fill your flower gardens. Just keep in mind that this compost is best used in ornamental — not edible — gardens.
Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning and Grooming Products
A walk down any grooming aisle at your local pet store can be overwhelming. And while these products may promise a silky, fresh smelling coat, most can’t guarantee safety for your dog or the planet.
Look for biodegradable, dog-safe shampoos that don’t have chemicals, coloring, preservatives or toxic ingredients. Your dog will thank you because he’ll be less likely to have an allergic reaction. Plus, you won’t be contributing to water pollution. Talk to your groomer about the products used when you send your dog out for a day at the spa, too. Use towels and old t-shirts to dry off your dog instead of paper towels.
Not sure what to look for? This article from Dogs Naturally Magazine tells you what to avoid and what to look for.
Ditch The Kibble
Have you ever considered how much your dog eats every year? What impact does what your dog eats have on the environment. The packaging often goes into the trash without a thought. And what about the manufacturing process?
We know that meat-based diets are most costly to the environment. In fact, a study out of UCLA found that cats and dogs account for up to 30% of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the US.
But our dogs need to eat meat, so what can you do to reduce those costs?
The more processing that goes into your dog’s food, the higher the carbon footprint. So, ditch the kibble. Make your own dog food using raw, organic ingredients suited to your dog’s needs, and compost what you don’t use. Make sure the food you’re feeding is coming from sustainable farming practices.
Here are a few other things that you can do:
- Check to see if the packaging is recyclable.
- Buy in bulk, which reduces the number of trips to the store and uses up less packaging.
- Look for a producer/manufacturer that uses organic products.
We all play a role in saving the environment, so next time you think about your carbon footprint, think about the ways that you can also be an eco-friendly dog owner. The earth, and your pup, will thank you!
Emily Vey is a research and writing wizard on the Four Leaf Rover team. She’s always working to help dogs live the healthiest lives possible (and helping the earth doesn't hurt either)! She lives in Ontario with her partner-in-crime Ryan, their husky Inuk and German shepherd Indi. Together they enjoy hiking, swimming and all things outdoors!