Dogs bring light, love, and joy to the world and many people’s homes. In the United States, 38.4% of households own at least one dog. This translates to millions of families, with all those pets creating massive amounts of waste each year. While your furry friend means well, their lifestyle may be hurting the environment.
Luckily, there are steps you can take as a pet owner to reduce your dog’s waste. Here are five to set you and your pup on the right path.
1. Create a Healthy Diet
Before reaching for another bag of dog food at the supermarket, take a closer look at the ingredient list. Some animals, like cows, have a much larger environmental footprint than others. Opting for food derived from chickens, fish, or even crickets provides your pet with essential nutrients while helping the environment.
Dog food is notorious for containing a host of chemical additives and preservatives. Numerous recalls have occurred around the world after salmonella, E. coli, and even the euthanasia drug pentobarbital was found in dog food. Unfortunately, deception is a real part of the pet industry, so the safest decision is to choose USDA-certified organic products. Organic dog food protects your pooch and supports farmers using eco-friendly practices.
2. Clean up Pet Waste
Taking Fido for a walk is essential to his health, but picking up after him is crucial. Pet waste can contain dangerous bacteria, harmful chemicals, and transmittable diseases. When it rains, the water washes these materials into surrounding drains, waterways, and farmlands.
The runoff causes pollution, which affects wildlife and humans alike. Instead of leaving the dog waste, use a bag or scooper to pick it up and dispose of it properly.
3. Choose Sustainable Toys
In 2019, Americans spent $95.7 billion on pets, and experts expect that number to rise. While that figure covers everything from food and toys to vet bills and medicine, it’s clear that having pets can be as costly as having children.
By choosing sustainable toys and bedding, you can help the environment and your wallet. Most dog owners know how quickly their dog destroys a cheaply made toy. It’s more sustainable to spend a bit extra to buy products that will last months rather than minutes. The same goes for bedding and accessories. If you catch yourself regularly replacing the same items, it may be time for an upgrade.
4. Buy Recycled Products
With the recent trend of healthy living and environmental awareness, finding recycled products has never been easier for pet owners. A quick web search will send you to pages of recycled dog toys and eco-friendly products. Buying organic green materials will help the environment and your dog’s health, as they often are free of harmful chemicals and carcinogenic materials.
5. Get Creative With Poop Disposal
Poop disposal — the less glamorous side of pet ownership. While you can pat yourself on the back for picking up your dog’s waste, the responsibility doesn’t end there. Using a single plastic bag on each outing creates unnecessary waste. Plastic takes years to break down, so tossing bags out after each trip harms the environment.
By getting creative with your pet’s poop disposal methods, you can protect the environment and minimize your dog’s carbon pawprint.
Popular green disposal methods include:
- Digging a hole: If you own a yard, consider digging a hole and burying your dog’s poop. To prevent contamination from runoff, make sure it’s at least 1 foot deep.
- Composting: Make an outdoor compost bin and add your pet’s waste. By next season, you’ll have lovely fertilizer for your flower garden — but don’t use it on anything you plan to eat.
- Outsourcing: Numerous companies will come to collect your waste to dispose of properly or harvest for biogas.
- Flushing: Send your dog’s waste down the toilet with a quick flush.
Be the Change
Every action has a reaction, so be the change you wish to see by shifting your perspective. These five steps can modify your dog parenting lifestyle to reduce waste and improve the environment. Living greener takes practice, but your dog and the planet are cheering you on.