Having a dog can be great for your peace, joy, and overall mental health – these pets are loyal, affectionate, and all-around reliable. They come with neither the attitude nor the litter boxes cats come with. What’s more, they are always down for a game or trick.
But is your dog really good for the environment?
Does he or she have a carbon footprint? How big is it? And more importantly, how can you reduce it?
Well, today we are going to go into that and so much more.
Does your dog leave a carbon footprint?
Yes, your dog does leave a carbon footprint. According to scientific studies, dogs and cats contribute to ¼ of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal agriculture, with dogs contributing more. In fact, some studies even suggest that a dog has a larger carbon footprint than an SUV.
The majority of a dog’s carbon footprint is attributed to its diet.
Since these pets eat a lot of meat, they contribute to a lot of land, water, and energy use. And let us not even get started on carbon dioxide production.
A medium-sized dog can eat up to 164 kg of meat per year yet producing just 1 kilogram of meat releases up to 300 kilograms of carbon dioxide. As such, a single dog can contribute to the production of tons of carbon dioxide every year.
10 ways to reduce your dog’s carbon footprint
So you just found that your furry friend isn’t as green as you had thought – it’s not the end of the world. There are some things you can do to make things better.
Here are 10 ways to reduce your dog’s carbon footprint!
Change your dog’s diet
Does your dog need to eat meat every day?
Probably not. This is bad for both your pup and the environment. So it is best to incorporate more vegetable proteins into your dog’s diet. If your vet is okay with it, your dog could even go 100% vegetarian.
More importantly, try not to overfeed your dog and be keen on which manufacturers you are buying pet food from. Always go with manufacturers that strive to reduce their carbon footprint.
And you can even try your hand at making your own organic vegetarian dog food.
Use sustainable doggie bags
All those plastic bags you keep buying to dispose of your dog’s waste aren’t doing much for the environment. You are better off with a repurposed bag or one of those compostable, biodegradable dog poop bag options.
Compost your dog’s waste
Although you should never add your pet’s waste to your garden compost, you can easily set up a separate compost system for this.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, this is a good way to effectively reduce the volume of your pet waste while nourishing the soil.
And if you are at a loss on where to start, we have some good news for you – Canada’s office of Urban Agriculture provides detailed instructions on their website.
Use natural flea prevention techniques
Fleas are one of the most annoying bugs out there – they can drive both you and your dog crazy. But most conventional flea collars and shampoos come with one major downside – they contain organophosphates and pyrethrins.
Not only are these two chemicals far from eco-friendly, but they are also suspected to be carcinogens and neurotoxicants.
Fortunately, there is another option out there –(DE).
Made from the skeletons of dead algae, this substance contains amorphous silica and is safe for plants, animals, and humans. All you have to do is rub it into your dog’s fur to kill fleas within 24 to 72 hours. Repeat this every three days if you still spot any fleas on your dog.
For maximum efficiency, you should also apply it to your floors, carpets, and surfaces and let it sit for four days before vacuuming. It works on outdoor surfaces and lawns as well.
Opt for green products
One of the best ways to reduce your dog’s carbon footprint is to get him only green products. These include toys, collars, and leashes.
Fortunately, this is not a problem in this day and age. You can easily find reclaimed dog sweaters, organic pet beds, organic toys, and even collars/leashes made from hemp.
Websites like Green America can help you on your quest.
Recycle and reuse
Your dog’s food bags, toy packaging, and cans can easily be recycled at your local facility.
You could also donate unwanted food, treats, and food to your local animal shelter. This way, you can reduce your carbon footprint while helping others.
Seek alternative travel methods
Instead of driving everywhere, you and your pet can explore more sustainable traveling methods. For instance, you could decide to walk to the park or grocery store. Or you could start cycling.
Not only is this good for the environment but it also keeps both of you healthy.
Consider having a staycation
If you and your dog regularly go for vacations, doing staycations instead can go a long way in reducing your carbon footprints.
Get greener grooming
While regular dog grooming is important, you need to be careful about the kind of products you use. For instance, many shampoos and grooming sprays contain toxic non-biodegradable chemicals that are harmful to both your dog and the planet, especially when used for prolonged periods.
As such, ensure you only use natural products that are free of parabens and dyes.
Also, always choose wooden brushes over plastic ones.
Neuter your dog
With already so many dogs in shelters, the best thing you can do for the planet is to neuter your dog in advance.
This will guarantee you don’t end up with more dogs than you can handle.
The fewer pets you have the better
If you’ve tried all the above ways of reducing your dog’s carbon footprint and still feel like it isn’t enough, the only other option you have left is to reconsider having a pet in general.
I’m not saying to get rid of your pup. Rather I’m advising you to really with the pros and cons of getting another pet and if it really aligns with your sustainability goals and aspirations.