Here’s how to become a more sustainable pet owner

Pet sitting is a luxury in the western world. And like other luxury goods, it’s our responsibility to minimize our impact on our planet by taking steps to make it as sustainable as possible.

Here are my top ten tips for making animal farming more environmentally friendly.

1) Choose sustainable pet food

The production of meat for pet food contributes significantly to greenhouse gases. There are a few mitigating aspects: commercial pet food was originally a way to use up waste from slaughterhouses, pet food contained the bits of meat that humans didn’t want to eat. Thus, it can be said that commercial pet foods are already sustainable, making good use of by-products. Recent trends are less sustainable, with people wanting to feed their pets premium, premium meat from animals that must be bred specifically for the production of meat for pet food or that would otherwise be used for human meat consumption.

More sustainable options for feeding pets include insect-based products for dogs and cats (eg Omuu, developed by an Irish veterinarian) and vegetarian or vegan dog food. Although it is safe for dogs to eat nutritionally balanced meatless diets, cats are obligate carnivores, which means they absolutely crave certain ingredients that can only be found in the diet. meat. It is possible to get these essential nutrients from sources other than meat, but many veterinarians believe that trying to force pure carnivores like cats to survive without meat is wrong.

2) Buy in bulk

Modern dry pet food has a long shelf life even when the bag has been opened, as long as you are careful how you store it. If you buy a bigger bag, you’ll use less packaging and need fewer car trips to the pet store (or fewer deliveries from the online store).

3) Choose recyclable packaging for food or other pet products.

Pet food is usually packaged in easy-to-use plastic. While this can have its benefits (easily re-sealable bags allow food to be stored longer), some companies are more careful than others to ensure their packaging is as environmentally friendly as possible. Even plastic packaging can be recycled. Read the label carefully and visit company websites to learn more: many have strong, progressive sustainability policies like Purina.

4) Choose higher quality toys and accessories.

It’s easy to buy cheap “tattoos” for pets, but the more durable option is to buy well-made products, from durable materials, so they’re more likely to last a long time. This applies to leashes, collars, food and water bowls, clothing, and just about anything you can buy for your pet. It’s also worth looking for products designed to be sustainable, such as the Beco range of food bowls, which are made from plant-based materials, including bamboo, to help reduce the use of petroleum-based plastics. . See becopets.com.

5) Choose not to buy toys: Recycle trash into pet toys.

Dogs and cats aren’t fussy: the simplest cardboard boxes, packaging materials, and food and drink containers can often be repurposed as things your pets will love to play with.

6) Choose cat litter carefully

If you have indoor cats, you will find yourself using surprising amounts of kitty litter for their indoor grooming. Clumping cat litter is the most popular because it allows you to remove contaminated areas (which harden when moistened with urine) while uncontaminated areas can be left in the tray. This can be effective, but used clumps must be landfilled, and some types of clay-based clumping litter are mined and processed in ways that can destroy habitats and pollute the environment. More sustainable options include biodegradable and compostable plant-based litter (e.g. bamboo, corn, or grass seed), wood pellet litter, or, if you want a clumping version, plant-based options. coconut and walnuts. You can also consider the Kwitter litter box which teaches your cat to use the human toilet.

7) Choose compostable poop bags

Poop bags are an essential part of dog ownership: rather than the cheaper plastic versions, pay a little more for compostable bags that don’t go straight to the landfill.

Photo: Matthias Zomer / Pexels
Photo: Matthias Zomer / Pexels

8) Walk your dogs from home

There is a financial price and a greenhouse gas price to pay for driving the car. If you drive a few miles each day for the sole purpose of walking your dogs, it will create a high annual cost in money and the production of climate-altering gas. It makes financial and environmental sense to walk your dogs from home: pull out Google Maps, set the layers to “satellite,” and search your area for new dog-walking habitats. If you live in a built-up area, a five meter long training leash can be a worthwhile purchase, allowing you to give your dogs more freedom while keeping them safely under control in areas where there may be more human activity.

9) Recycle Pet Hair

When combing and brushing your pet, you collect bags of pet fur. Rather than putting it in the trash, you can offer it to wild birds in the spring (to line their nests) or you can learn to use it for knitting (see that on Youtube).

10) Choose pest control carefully so as not to harm the environment

It is important to take care of your pet’s health and this includes treating parasites that can cause illness. However, this should be done in a targeted manner, after an individual risk assessment, rather than as a general policy for all dogs and cats. Environmental studies suggest that the decline in insect populations may be linked to the overuse of certain flea products in some areas. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s needs and the most environmentally friendly ways to control parasites.

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