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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

How to Raise an Eco-Friendly Pet

By Becky Streeter

Many people consider their pets to be members of the family. We buy them the best food and treats. We give them gifts and toys for birthdays, holidays and “just because” days. We buy them clothes to keep them warm, or just because. But all of these things come with packaging, leaving a significant paw print on our environment. And let’s not forget about the literal waste created by our furry friends…. For those who are eco-minded, here are a few ways you can help reduce your pet’s impact on Mother Nature:

1. Don’t overfeed your pet. Most pet food products are meat-based, which in-and-of-itself makes a significant impact on our environment from the get go. Add to that the statistic that more than half the dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese means we often feed our pets too much.

2. Buy bulk-sized bags, recycle or upcycle. Purchase the largest bag of food you can and transfer it to an air-tight container. That way you are only disposing of one bag versus two or three for the same amount of food. Additionally, some bags are recyclable, including Canidae, Hill’s, NutriSource Pet Food, Purina, Royal Canin, and Stella & Chewy’s. Check with your recycling center to see if you can put your pet food bag in the same bin, or if you need to drop it off at a facility. Additionally, if your bag is not recyclable, Google how to upcycle it into a cool tote for you or food mat for your furry.

3. Buy veggie treats. Most treats, like food, are meat based. However, there is an increasing number of plant-based items hitting the market that can be beneficial for your pet (i.e. Greenies!). Keep an eye out for recyclable packing here, too.

4. Make your own dog treats. This completely eliminates packaging, and you know exactly what your dog is eating, and how fresh it is. The American Kennel Club has several recipes for dog treats available on their website.

5. Recycling and upcycling with toys. If they’re not completely ripped to shreds, you can donate used toys to a local shelter or through a neighborhood program, or give them to a friend who just got a puppy (they don’t care!). When purchasing toys, look for brands that use sustainable or natural materials. You can also create your own tug toys by tying knots in old t-shirts or threadbare sweatpants.

6. Dispose of waste differently. If you pick up poops with a plastic bag, opt for a biodegradable bag. Or, if you’re really ambitious, the best way to dispose of your pet’s poo is by flushing it down the toilet (just like a human) so that a sewage treatment plant can properly handle it. Something to note: higher-quality food will actually help your pet produce less waste. Additionally, you CAN compost dog waste, but carefully research this as it is a little different than regular composting–and you should only use the composted results on your lawn, not your vegetable garden.

Sources: Kim, Jessica. “Are Dog Food Bags Recyclable? Does It Vary by Brand?” Pet Keen. 08 August 2022.

Waldbieser, Jill. “6 Ways to Lighten Your Pet's Environmental Paw Print.” Eating Well. 23 February 2022.

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