Pet-sitting, dog walking, or just spending time with your family pet this summer? Did you know that in the US, dogs and cats create the equivalent of about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide a year? Love your pet and love the Earth too? Check out our top 10 tips to reduce your pet’s carbon pawprint!
1. Pick up after your pets
This one may seem obvious, but it’s one of the easiest things you can do to protect your environment! Rain can carry pathogens in your dog’s waste into waterways, making people sick and contributing to algae outbreaks. Marine life might also be harmed by these pathogens getting into the water, so make sure you’re picking up after your pets every time!
2. Use non-toxic flea and tick protection
Fleas and ticks are no fun, but neither are the harsh chemicals that make up most pest protection products on the market today. The best way to protect your pet against fleas and ticks are regular groomings and washing your pet’s bedding. Chemical products can get washed off into the environment, hurting wildlife, especially pollinators.
3. Avoid “human-grade” pet food
We all know that the meat industry is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but as natural meat-eaters, especially cats who are carnivores, we can’t cut meat out of their diets, but we can pick pet foods with a lower environmental impact. Human grade pet food, made with the same cuts of meat that we eat, cause more waste, as the organs and other by-products are not used. To your pet, meat is meat, so avoiding “human-grade” food is a great (and cost friendly) way to reduce your pet’s carbon pawprint.
4. Pick sustainable toys
I’m guilty of spoiling my dogs with tons of toys, but by buying more sustainable toys, your pet can play and have a smaller environmental impact. My dogs love the brand P.L.A.Y. which fills all their plush toys with PlanetFill filler that’s made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles
5. Clean out the toy box
Does your dog have a ton of toys, but only really plays with a few? Most dogs only have about three favorite toys, and the rest just take up space. Instead of keeping them or throwing them away, donate toys to your local animal shelter. It’s a great way to help homeless pets and keep perfectly good toys out of landfills!
6. Keep cats indoors
Did you know that domestic cats kill from 1.3 to 4 billion birds a year? You read that right, billions. Cats are a huge part of bird mortality in the US, and keeping your cat inside can help protect bird populations. If you can’t keep your cat inside all the time, adding a bell to their collar can give birds warning to get away in time.
7. Use canned food
If it’s safe to switch your pet’s food (ask the vet first!) try switching to canned food instead of dry kibble. While most food bags are made from plastic and end up in landfills, the empty cans from wet food can be recycled.
8. Look into pet-waste composting
Although not widespread yet, check your local area to see if they have a pet-waste composting program. Even using biodegradable poop bags, many of these bags do not decompose under normal landfill conditions but do in specialized pet-waste compost piles. It’s also important to remember to not throw pet waste into normal composting to avoid contamination, and never flush pet waste down the toilet.
9. Switch your cat’s litter
Most big-name cat litter brands are based on a type of clay, sodium bentonite, which is obtained through strip mining, which is environmentally destructive. Try switching to a litter with a different base ingredient such as wood, corn, wheat, or even recycled paper.
10.Spay or neuter
The US has a huge homeless pet population, and making sure your pet is spayed or neutered means you won’t accidently contribute to that population and add additional strain on animal shelters and rescues.