According to CNN, a medium-sized dog has twice the impact on the environment as driving an SUV 10,000 miles.
Robert Vale, co-author of “Time to Eat the Dog?: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living,” told CNN, “Dogs are bad for the environment because they are large carnivores, so it takes a lot of land to provide their foods.”
Robert and co-author Brenda Vale, both architecture professors at the Victory University of Wellington in New Zealand, designed the Hockerton Housing Project, the first sustainable settlement in the UK.
The Vales suggested the following ways to help make your pooch more eco-friendly.
Put Your Dog on a Diet
Your dog’s diet has the biggest influence on his environmental impact, according to the Vales. They said most processed dog food isn’t produced in an eco-friendly way, and since heavy cans and bags of kibble aren’t produced locally, they often have to be shipped for thousands of miles.
Dr. Viv Harris, a veterinarian who wrote “Natural Remedies Dogs and Cats Wish You Knew: A Holistic Care Guide,” told CNN that pet parents should make dog food from scratch, using locally grown or organic vegetables.
“Your vet can help you work out the perfect mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins to meet your pup’s needs,” she said. “Your dog may be better off eating home-made meals since many dog foods that claim to be all-natural still contain byproducts or low-grade meats.”
If you’d prefer to buy dog food, either shop for local brands if possible, or buy chicken- or rabbit-based kibble, which is better for the environment than beef.
Scoop the Poop
The Vales said dogpoop isn’t such a big deal compared to what goes in the other end. However, dog feces can contaminate waterways, so be sure to clean up after your dog. “If you’re a city dweller and use plastic bags to clean up, choose biodegradable poop bags,” CNN suggested.
Buy Natural Products
For your dog’s toys and bed, avoid plastic and synthetic products; natural fibers like organic cotton or hemp, and products made from recycled materials are better for the environment. Use dog shampoo that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate.
Spay and Neuter
Here’s another reason why it’s so important to spay or neuter your dog. “Reducing the overpopulation of dogs is crucial,” Harris told CNN. “If your dog alone creates a impact bigger than an SUV, just think about what an accidental litter of puppies could do.”
Use Safe Flea and Tick Treatments
Some flea-control products pose a cancer risk to children up to a thousand times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable limits, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Talk to your vet about safer treatments.