Being an eco-friendly dog owner doesn’t just mean that you go for a long hike with your dog each week and remember to clean up after them. There is so much more that we can do with the products that we buy, the services we use, and our own behaviours to do our little bit. I thought it might be nice to pull together a list of 9 things you can do that are simple swaps or easy habits to get into to become an environmentally friendly dog owner.
Adopt a dog
Becoming an environmentally-aware pet owner begins from the moment you choose your pet. Overpopulation and limited resources aren’t just an issue for humans. There are lots of dogs out there fighting for the same love, attention, food, and other goods. When we turn to breeders, we encourage them to increase this population further while ignoring the needs of dogs in need of a home. Adopting is the best way forward.
Try and buy dog food with a better carbon footprint.
There is more and more incentive to consider ethical food sources with local ingredients that reduce air miles and a product’s carbon footprint. Each change adds up. So, why not do the same with a dog food company that is local and uses a better source of food? You might also want to consider focusing on a different protein than beef. We can’t turn our dogs vegetarian, but we can reduce our reliance on beef. Beef farming is a major factor in climate change due to land use, the food needed for the animals, and the methane they generate.
Avoid single-use cheap plastic toys.
Single-use plastic may not be as prevalent as it once was, but it is still common. Cheap plastic toys are an affordable way to entertain a dog until they rip it to shreds, or it simply falls apart. Then it just ends up in a landfill where it can’t decompose. Try and make a point of buying toys that are either made from natural materials. These chew toys may have nicer textures and be a lot safer for your dog.
Upcycle clothes and other items to make items that will last.
You could buy these natural items and toys, or you can make them with old clothes and blankets. Dog’s don’t care if something is new from a store or has an association with the brand. They want to enjoy the tastes, textures, and scents. Use old pieces of material as bedding, make dog cushions, create stuffed toys, and all kinds of other fun items. An old t-shirt that smells like you is a great comfort item for any dog, so it makes sense to take that even further. Here’s 100 DIY toys you can make for your pets.
Look for natural products in doggy healthcare to reduce the use of chemicals.
There are far too many products out there that still rely on chemicals for a “better” clean. Dog’s don’t need artificial fragrances and dyes. They just need gentle formulas that work. There is also the risk that these chemicals then end up in the water supply, polluting rivers and oceans. Make the switch to a natural product when choosing the best dog shampoos, toothpaste, flea treatments, and anything else you need.
Consider making homemade pet-friendly products at home.
If you like the idea of creating pet products yourself to cut costs and get creative, you can also do this with your dog’s healthcare products. Natural soaps and shampoos are a fun project and you can be sure of a scent and formula personalised to your pet’s needs. Also, you can recycle old bottles to store them in. Here’s a paw wash you can make.
Think about what you do with your dog’s poop when you are on a walk.
All responsible dog owners know that they should bag their dog’s poop and bin it wherever they can. But, there are some environmental issues here. Firstly, the stigma about not bagging poop has led to the behaviour of bagging the poop but leaving it hanging on tree branches because there isn’t a bin. If you can’t bin it or take it home, just flick the poop into the undergrowth where it can break down and not be in the way.
Secondly, not all dog owners use biodegradable bags. This leads to bins full of bags that won’t break down, causing another environmental problem. So, the ideal situation here is to get a biodegradable bag, locate the nearest bin, or have a compartment in your bag to store the poop safely until you get home. A bonus of taking the poop home is that you can let it break down as fertiliser for your garden.
Think about your energy usage.
This might sound strange at first, but how many electronic items do you have at home for your pet? Are you leaving the radio on for them during the day? Do you have special devices for feeding your dog while you are at work? All devices geared towards pets require energy and can increase the carbon footprint of your home. If you also have climate control devices like humidifiers, it all begins to add up. Monitor your usage and look for more green solutions where possible.
Do your best to support eco-friendly pet businesses.
Finally, whatever you buy for your pet, and whatever service you use, it helps to do business with a company you can rely on. For example, there may be two local groomers in your area. One that uses cheaper products to cut costs and one that is more expensive but has an all-natural approach.
Or, you may have a choice between a dog walker that stays local and bakes their own treats and another that transports all their client’s dogs out of the city in a fuel-hungry mini-van. The little details make a difference.
Becoming an environmentally-friendly dog owner is possible one step at a time.
Don’t beat yourself up for taking the easy option now and then. Instead, take a moment to see what your choices are for feeding, entertaining, grooming, and caring for your pet. Each small eco-friendly chance will make a difference.