While I don’t have a dog or pet of any kind, everyone that falls into my friend or family category does.  I love them all, and they seem to love me. But our fulltime RV lifestyle does not allow us to have our own.

While staying at our last RV Resort, it seemed that over 75% of the people in the Park had a dog to walk.  As I was writing articles about reducing our carbon footprint, I started to wonder what a dog’s carbon footprint amounts to. Everything we do and everything we have has a carbon footprint – dogs are no exception.

A study published in the journal Global Environmental Change found that land needed to grow crops for dry pet food equates to roughly twice the size of the UK. Dry food accounts for 95% of pet food sales.

But food is not the only thing to consider.

Here are 5 ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your beloved furry friend:

[I am in the process of writing a full article on the topic of our pets carbon footprint, but wanted to share these tips for you to get the conversation started.]

  1. Incorporate a low-carbon diet.  Most pet food includes lamb and beef.  The Environmental Working Group’s “Meat Eater’s Guide” notes that beef produces 13 times more greenhouse gases over its life cycle than vegetable proteins, and the carbon footprint of lamb is 50 percent higher. Poultry, while better, still produces four to five times as many greenhouse gases as vegetable proteins. Beware of those added by-products and artificial preservatives too.

    Dogs can go vegetarian, but cats need more meat based protein than humans.

    Look for food made from lower on the food chain, and if possible, try making your own fresh foods. And of course be sure the packaging is recyclable or can be put into your compost bin.

  2. Repurpose plastic bags you seem to acquire, such as from clothing, food or other packaging. This is better than using those “biodegradable” bags since most of the gathered waste is headed for a landfill.  To be biodegradable, it needs air, sunlight and water.  Landfills are not built to allow for any of those.
  3. Buy sustainably produced products for your pet.  Collars and leashes can be made from hemp or other organic fibers. Repurposed fabric is used to make dog beds or sweaters. Take a look around and what products you buy and find alternatives that have a smaller footprint.

    Avoid plastic items as much as possible.  For example, use a stainless steel food dish versus plastic.

    Gently used collars, leashes beds, clothing, bowls, etc. can be donated to a local animal shelter or rescue organization.

  4. Making your own dog treats saves on packaging, transportation, and questionable ingredients. You can also feed them pet safe people food such as cooked eggs, carrots, and meat (remember to eat lower on food chain).
  5. Toys are important for you dog, but they tend to get destroyed quickly. Should we keep buying them when you consider the carbon footprint of each of them?  How about repurposing some of your unwanted items? Old t-shirts can be knotted and used as a pull toy, or used tennis balls can be used to play fetch.

    If you do make a purchase, make it sustainable.  When your dog no longer finds it fun, maybe do a trade with a friend.

Do you have any other suggestions for dog owners that will reduce their carbon footprint? Let us know in the comments.

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