This article is contributed by guest writer, @Dakota_Murphey.
How to be an Environmentally-Friendly Dog Owner
The subject of sustainability is a high priority for so many of us now, but did you realize that caring for a pet can also impact your carbon footprint? Studies suggest that dogs and cats account for one-quarter of the carbon footprint of all animals and can lead to 64 million tons of CO2 in the air. Whether you already have pets or you’re considering adding a furry friend to your household, here are some tips on how to be an environmentally-friendly dog owner.
Adopt, don’t shop
With over seven million dogs and cats euthanized every year in the US, and more than 70 million stray animals roaming the streets without food or shelter, adopting a pet is one of the best things you can do.
When you adopt from a shelter instead of buying a dog from a breeder, you’re not only saving a life but you’re also helping to reduce the number of dogs bred to be sold, which is better for the planet and its limited resources.
Neuter your pets
Animals use up a lot of environmental resources, so, in addition to adopting from shelters, you should also ensure that your dog is spayed or neutered to prevent more animals from coming into the world. It also helps to prevent your pet from catching diseases such as prostate issues, uterus infections and breast tumors.
Vaccinate to prevent diseases
Making sure that your dog is vaccinated and kept up to date with their checks will help to prevent the spread of infections and diseases. “Vaccination remains the cornerstone of a good preventative care policy”, says Dave Salisbury-Jones of Vale Vets, “you should not be put off getting vaccinations for your pet by those ill-formed people who say regular booster vaccination is either unnecessary or unsafe. They are wrong.”
Switch to a plant-based diet
As with humans, switching to a plant-based diet helps to reduce pollution and lowers the environmental impact of owning a pet. The main area to focus on is the packaging of the food you buy – where possible, choose loose food from stores where you can use reusable containers, or opt for recyclable packaging.
Meat is incredibly resource-intensive to produce so if your dog eats a meat-based diet, choose lower impact meats such as chicken or rabbit and avoid beef.
Use biodegradable waste bags
The topic of pet waste may be an unpleasant one, but it’s important to consider how you clean up after your pet in order to protect the ecosystems. Pet feces can pollute the waterways, has a negative impact on wildlife and can even carry diseases.
Whether it’s on a walk or in your own backyard, cleaning up waste in the right way is key. Biodegradable bags are the easiest and most convenient way of picking up waste in an eco-friendly way – they typically decompose within six months and don’t contain plastic materials.
Keep plastic toys to a minimum
Having plenty of toys to play with enriches your dog’s life but so many pet toys are made from plastic. Luckily, there are alternatives, both in pet shops and around your home. First, take a look around the house and get creative – from knotted old t-shirts to old toilet roll tubes with treats inside, dogs can have fun with a host of things that you might otherwise throw out.
If you want to buy something new, look for toys that are made from biodegradable or recyclable materials.
Donate used items
So much of what we buy for our pets goes into the landfill, but there are ways to be more considerate about how we dispose of things we no longer need. For example, instead of throwing out gently used collars, leads or toys, why not give them a second lease of life by donating them to your local animal shelter?
It’s also a good idea to consider whether the things you already own can be repaired instead of being replaced. If there are holes in your dog’s bedding or winter coats, check whether they can be sewn up and continue to be used for a bit longer before you replace them with something new.
From choosing sustainably-focused businesses and recyclable materials, to monitoring what you feed your dog, there are various ways of being an eco-friendly dog owner. Caring for your dog’s health and happiness is of paramount importance but there are ways of doing so in a way that also cares for the planet.