Sustainable Pet Ownership: Ways to Reduce Your Dog’s Carbon Paw Print

Our pups are exposed to a multitude of health hazards daily, such as emissions from vehicles, given their lower height compared to humans, and harsh chemicals utilized in our gardens and public green spaces. It’s crucial that we work towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment for future generations of dogs as well!

As pet parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are not wasteful or using carbon-extravagant practices with our furry friends. How can we do our part to make sure we are giving our dogs their best life while looking out for others? Here are some tips on being green and reducing your carbon pawprint when you have a dog.  

Adopt Eco-Friendly Habits

Shop for natural and organic grooming products free from harsh chemicals and come in recyclable packaging whenever possible. Eco-friendly grooming products are typically made with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, aloe vera, and chamomile. Natural options are not only better for the environment, but they are also better for your dog’s skin and coat. 

Or better yet, make your own dog shampoo. Doing it yourself means it is usually better for the environment too. Not only is less plastic used, but typically there are no added chemicals or harsh ingredients that can be washed into the water system. 

You can also make homemade flea and tick treatments by steeping a quart of boiled water and a sliced lemon overnight. Then add 10 drops each of lemongrass and citronella oil, a cup of vinegar (distilled white or apple cider), and a few drops of cedarwood oil. Put the mixture in a reusable spray bottle and refrigerate between uses. Shake well before using.

Reduce Plastic Waste

Pick up your dog’s waste with eco-friendly or biodegradable poop bags. Bulldogology’s poop bags are made with biobased cornstarch that’s certified compostable. They’re also unscented, have built-in handles for carrying (and to tie shut), and are extra-thick, leak-proof, and tear-resistant. If you’re feeling extra environmental, you can skip the bag and compost your dog’s yard doo doo or flush it down the toilet. 

Minimize plastic toys, bowls, and other accessories. Look for products made from recycled and natural materials such as hemp or an organic cotton that are made using sustainable manufacturing processes. Glass, stainless steel, or porcelain dog bowls are better than plastic which does not biodegrade as easily. If you do decide on a plastic bowl, make sure it is BPA-free.

There are plenty of ways you can upcycle common household items too. Instead of a plastic cone after surgery, use a t-shirt or baby onesie to keep them from licking wounds or hot spots. Tear up old jeans, tie knots in them, and use them as rope toys for tug of war. Or use an old (but clean) fleece blanket as a snuffle mat. Instead of a dog bed, try an unused bed pillow with a pillowcase that you can wash as needed. 

Feed Consciously

Choose pet food with organic and locally sourced ingredients that require less energy and resources. Minimize pet food that contains meat from factory farms, a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Additionally, talk to your vet to see if a plant-based diet could be a good option for your furry friend. While dogs are natural omnivores who often prefer meat and animal products, some experts say it’s safe to feed your dog a vegan diet as long as they get all the proper supplemental nutrients. Many dogs are allergic or sensitive to certain meats, so going green could have health benefits too.

A growing number of store-bought edible dog products are packaged in single-use plastic and contain unhealthy additives. Making your treats at home reduces packaging waste and ensures your dog eats natural ingredients like vegetables and fruits. Make sure whatever foods or recipes you use are appropriate for your pet, whether a dog or cat.

One easy, yummy dog treat that requires no prep is frozen blueberries. They’re crunchy and sweet, plus packed with antioxidants. Another idea is making frozen banana treats. Simply blend 4 cups of plain, non-fat yogurt, 2 tablespoons of xylitol-free peanut butter, and 3 ripe bananas into a puree. Pour into an ice tray and freeze until firm. Then pop them out and serve. They should stay good in the freezer for a few weeks. 

Use Less Energy & Gas Emissions 

If you have wireless pet cameras or other pet electronics like water fountains or auto-feeders, unplug them when not in use. If you purchase dog food online, buy in bulk to have less vehicular emissions from shipping. This also helps use fewer boxes and wrapping materials. 

Some fresh dog food brands like The Farmer’s Dog are frozen, so you can store extra portions in your freezer. The packaging is made from recycled cardboard, and its insulation is made from cornstarch which dissolves under running water. If you use fresh product that comes in plastic containers,  you can recycle them or wash and reuse them for other uses around the house.

Do you live within walking distance of a park or area where your dog can play? Consider walking there instead of driving. If you live in a city, see if there are vet offices, pet stores, or other dog-friendly activities you can get to on foot. Or, if you have a small dog, you might consider putting them into a pet-safe bike carrier. Shopping locally supports small businesses and also helps the environment. 

By incorporating these simple changes into your dog’s lifestyle, you can help reduce their carbon impact and live a more eco-aware life. Even if you don’t incorporate them all, every small step makes an impact in the fight against climate change. 

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