When it comes to ‘puppy love’, your pet may be a much-loved part of the family – but are you doing your best to make sure that their carbon paw-prints are properly under control? Pets can be surprisingly eco-unfriendly when you stop to consider just how many planetary resources they use up – from unwanted toys through to the ingredients that go into dog or cat food. Luckily it’s easier than you might think to make your pet carbon-friendly – start off with these simple tips below.
Buy Better Dog Food
Have you ever stopped to check exactly what goes into Fido’s daily can or pouch of pet food? Look beyond the appealing labelling and you might just get a shock. At the moment EU law allows manufacturers to include ingredients like ‘EC-permitted additives’ and ‘animal by-products’ without going into more detail. The truth is that these ingredients often constitute cheap cuts of meat (bolstered with cheap cereal) rather than the ‘meaty goodness’ glossy ads promise. This kind of manufacturing, where meat is intensively reared, is truly terrible for the environment – and possibly not the best choice for your pet’s health either.
These days you’ll increasingly find organic pet food options at big health stores or online which feature free-range meat that manufacturers can prove really has come from an animal! If switching pet food seems too expensive, then consider buying your own meat from the butchers, and adding biscuits for a healthier, more eco-friendly main meal. It is possible to create your own pet food from scratch (there are plenty of recipes online), but beware, some common foodstuffs are bad news for cats and dogs. Always be sure to check with your vet first.
Top Eco-Friendly Toys
The choice of organic, recyclable and fairly-traded pet toys is on the increase, both in pet stores and online. Rather than using plastic (which is often very difficult to recycle – especially after it’s been chewed a few thousand times!) manufacturers are concentrating on going back to more traditional materials and fabrics. Great news when you consider just how many toys a well-loved pet can get through in a lifetime.
Meanwhile, if your dog or cat is the kind that gets tonnes of toys at Christmas from well-meaning friends and relatives, then remember to recycle them in the kindest way: take a trip to your local animal rescue charity. They’ll be more than happy to distribute the toys among animals that are less well off than yours.
The Scoop On Waste
According to official figures an amazing thousand tonnes of pet excrement comes from UK animals daily – and it’s up to responsible owners to deal with it. Animal mess in municipal parks and other areas is an obvious environmental hazard, which can prove dangerous to local wildlife. Today most owners use some form of ‘pooper scooper’ – and it pays the planet to pick the greenest method possible. Biodegradable bags are a fantastic way to minimise waste, though they can be expensive. At the very least, it’s possible to reuse old plastic bags you may have around the home as ‘pooper scoopers’ to cut back expenditure while doing your bit for the environment.
Just like human grooming products, shampoos designed for dogs and cats can contain chemical detergents which irritate skin and may exacerbate allergies. If you do buy dog shampoo (some animal owners swear that soap and warm water works just as well) then pick one of the new generation of additive-free products. Some smaller companies are coming through with cute ‘pet beauty’ ranges which are free of potential nasties like sodium lauryl sulphate, which strips protective moisture from pets’ natural coats.