By Amy Tokic

Is it easy to go green when you have a pet?  There are things you can do to make the world a better place as a responsible pet owner.

As of 2023, 66% of U.S. households (86.9 million homes) own a pet. The pet food industry has a significant impact on the environment due to its carbon footprint, despite the manufacturing and delivery of pet products also contributing to this issue. Our pets are responsible for a significant portion of the environmental impact that comes from processing and consuming meat – about 25 to 30%. The growing popularity of premium pet foods, with their meat-heavy recipes, threaten the stability and health of the environment. To keep your pets healthy and reduce your carbon footprint, it’s worth exploring these six eco-friendly ways to reduce your carbon footprint while keeping your pet healthy and happy.

The Benefits of Spaying/Neutering Your Pet

While high rates of pet ownership show just how much we love animals, it also increases the population of homeless dogs and cats. Releasing unfixed pets and allowing them to roam freely may seem humane, but these practices lead to overpopulation. Spaying or neutering your pet has several medical benefits, reduces the number of feral animals born, and helps control their mating habits. Fixed pets are less likely to mark their territory than unaltered animals, and they enjoy longer lifespans with a reduced risk of obesity and cancer. Plus, fewer trips to the vet’s office help conserve fossil fuels and improve air quality.

Purchase Sustainable Pet Food

Another way to reduce your pet’s environmental impact is to purchase sustainable pet food. As more pet owners become concerned about the quality of their pets’ food, there has been an increase in premium pet food producers. However, it’s essential to research pet food companies to ensure their practices are eco-friendly. Private pet food companies are often much more transparent about their sourcing and processing techniques. Support a local producer or one that makes food in the same country to reduce the environmental cost of transportation. Fresh food and raw meat delivery services are also great options because they only deliver to the locally and use locally sourced meat and vegetables.

Throw Pet Poop in the Garbage

Did you know that our pets produce as much feces as 90 million humans? Holy crap – that’s a lot of mess! Most of the 5.1 million tons of pet waste produced each year is thrown into a landfill, often wrapped in plastic bags. While dog and cat waste can’t be used for composting in vegetable gardens, it can still be disposed of in biodegradable bags that allow it to decompose more quickly. If left in your yard, pet waste can contaminate groundwater and even spread worms and other parasites to other animals. By promptly removing waste and disposing of it in an eco-friendly manner, you can help keep your neighborhood, pets, and the world healthier and cleaner.

Choose Eco-Friendly Pet Toys

Keeping pets mentally stimulated and physically active is important, and toys can be a great way to achieve both. However, many toys are quickly thrown out because of wear and tear, making them a continuous expense. While some dogs are more destructive than others, investing in premium and sustainable pet products can save costs in the long run. Although the initial cost of eco-friendly pet products may be higher than disposable toys, the price difference is not significant. Alternatively, upcycling old clothes – there are plenty of easy DIY posts on the web that show you exactly how to turn clothes into fun dog and cat toys.

Adopt a Pet Whenever Possible

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a brief decline in new animals arriving at animal shelters, as more people adopted pets during lockdowns and travel restrictions. However, as people returned to work and travel, many pets were abandoned or returned to shelters. Adopting a shelter animal can help with overcrowding and reduce the number of euthanized pets. The yearly euthanasia statistics are still concerning – 1.5 million dogs and cats euthanized annually. Choosing to rescue an animal from a shelter can not only brighten your life but also provide a second chance to a lonely pet that would otherwise face an uncertain future.

Make Some Homemade Treats

Many pet treats on the market are loaded with preservatives, sodium, artificial colors, and unnecessary fillers. While premium brands with high-quality meat sources and fewer ingredients are a healthier alternative, they can be just as expensive as top-of-the-line pet food. Making pet treats in your kitchen can be a cost-effective way to ensure your furry friend is getting the best nutrition possible. As well, you can use some of the same ingredients you use for yourself, such as unseasoned beef or plain chicken, to make treats for your pet.

Being eco-minded is easier than you think, and every little bit counts. And remember, when you show the earth some appreciation, you and your furry best friend can enjoy the fruits of your efforts together!

Pet expert Amy Tokic is a lifelong passionate animal lover and proud pet parent to Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross and Zed, a  Japanese Chin. She’s the former editor for Tokic continues to write about her adventures in dogdom,   research/review products and health related issues she can share with other companion animal enthusiasts.