Your pet, who you consider to be a part of your family, too has an environmental impact. Most pet owners are oblivious to the fact that dogs, cats, exotic pets and even fishes in aquariums eliminate CO2 in some way or the other. While you may be reducing your carbon footprint you should pay attention to your pets’ environmental impact.
Pets such as snakes and fish need light, warmth and heat to survive which add to your energy use. You must be thinking that you may be asked to stop keeping pets! There’s no need for that, but you should keep pets responsibly. Read on to find out about your pet’s environmental effect and also how to reduce it:
How pets’ environmental impact is caused
For you to practice sustainable pet ownership, you must know the ways in which they contribute to environmental pollution.
Pet feces might get into the waterways
One of the ways in which a pet may cause pollution, is when the pet feces gets into the waterways and pollutes drinking water. According to statistics, pets produce 5.1 million tonnes of feces every year, about the same amount as 90 million humans in America. This leads to a huge amount of CO2 when the feces are treated, when you flush them down the toilet. Besides, they are carriers of toxoplasmosis, which might be harmful to humans with compromised immunity.
Bigger pets have higher environmental impact
Does the size of the pets matter? Yes, it does, as a few researchers have found out. Bigger sized pets such as big dogs have a higher impact on the environment due to their higher food and other requirements.
Production of pet food leads to a lot of environmental pollution
It seems that producing food for a medium sized dog requires .84 global hectares (a measuring unit devised to calculate environmental impact) of land, which is more than running a Toyota Land Rover (.41 global hectares) and feeding a cat is more than the running cost of a Volkswagen Beetle.
How can you reduce your pets’ environmental impact
Leading a green lifestyle is not enough, if you forget about your pet’s environmental impact. It can be done quite easily, when you become aware of the ways in which you can do that.
Clean up after your dog/other pets
Cleaning up after your dog will help to keep the waterways clean. This would ensure that wildlife as well as humans’ water supply is clean. Besides, your neighbours will be happy if you keep the neighbourhood clean.
Feed less meat
One important choice you can make to reduce pets’ environmental impact, is to feed them less meat. In a study, it was found that dogs and cats contribute 25-39% to the US’s total environmental problem caused by the consumption of meat.
Meat requires much more energy, water and land to produce and also has other consequences such as land erosion, waste produced and pesticide use. Dogs and cats in the US also consume a lot of calories, more than France’s population!
But you will be surprised to know that dogs do not actually need a meat rich diet. There is a lot of hype created by ‘premium’ extremely expensive pet food brands which makes you and me think that our adored pets need meat to survive. Also, look for food which is made from chicken and rabbits, and not from fish or red meat, as these have a higher carbon footprint.
You must have noticed your pet pooch gobble up insects, given a chance. Scientists argue that if you can get over the ‘yuck’ factor, you can feed insects such as crickets on a daily basis, as they are high in omega 3 oils, vitamin B12 and iron. Some enterprising people are setting up cricket farms and have already started pet food made with crickets!
Cook your pet’s food
If you consult your veterinarian, he can advise you on the right amount of meat your dog needs, and following that would lead to sustainable pet ownership.
Cooking your pet food is easier if you have a dog, as cats are finicky eaters. Still, you might try a few things and cook the ones which the cat likes. When you’re cooking for your beloved pooch, you should always consult your vet and work out the different food groups which can be given to your dog, so that they don’t lose out on any important food they need to live a healthy life.
You can search for some eco-friendly dog food if you do not want to cook for them, but be sure to read the ingredients. It’s better to feed them a feed which is not high quality, as animals’ health is not affected by low grade meat raw material. If the food and meat is high quality, it means they are consuming as much as humans and emit as much greenhouse gases.
Those who want to reduce pets’ environmental impact and want them to follow a vegan diet, will be able to do so in the future. Scientists are growing meat in their labs, which means people who believe in a cruelty free lifestyle but like to eat meat have an option now, for themselves and their pets. In fact, the vegan meat for cats will probably be available in markets sooner than the vegan meat being developed for humans.
Other vegan food options, if you can get your dog to eat them, are ‘koji’, which has a high protein content. Dogs can digest protein easily and koji based dog food with additional nutrients can be a good vegan food choice for dogs.
Adopt, don’t buy
Instead of buying a puppy from a kennel, you should think about adopting a pet. Pet shelters are full of abandoned animals and you’d be saving their lives when you adopt them. Why is this eco-friendly? Because, when you adopt, you would be saving the resources required to keep them.
Buy sustainable products
While buying toys and accessories for your pets, buy sustainable products. Avoid plastic toys and try to make toys by yourself for your pet.
When you’re living a green life, it has to include all aspects, including your pet. It’s easy to reduce their carbon footprint by making a few changes in their food and accessories.