Six ways to be an eco-friendly pet owner as COP26 shines light on climate crisis

Did you know that the average dog produces an annual carbon footprint the equivalent to a flight from Paris to New York – and back. Double it if you’ve got two dogs, like me.

And when you consider that 3.2million households welcomed pets into their homes in the last year, that’s around 3.2million tons of CO2 emissions on average.

But. whilst food, accessories, vet care and everything else in between is an essential part of responsible pet ownership, there are some things we can do as pet parents to help reduce our dogs’ carbon pawprints.

The UK’s first carbon-neutral pet insurer, Agria Pet Insurance, has shared some of their top tips and easy swaps to make in order to become more sustainable owners, and tread lighter on the planet.

It comes as the COP26 conference on the climate crisis continues until November 12, with Agria Pet Insurance planting a tree for every new policy taken out.

So, how can we be more eco-friendly when it comes to our beloved dogs?

Food

A large part of the CO2 emissions produced by our pets is linked to their carnivorous diet. In fact, last year it was reported that an area roughly double the size of the UK is used each year to make dry cat and dog food. However, feeding chicken or fish-based food can help decrease this, but Agria say where fish is concerned, always check that it has been Marine Stewardship Council certified. This guarantees the fish have been sustainably fished.

Sustainable insect-based pet food is also now available – Phoebe and Frank previously gave Bug Bakes a go, and even enjoy the occasional Green and Wilds eco-insect treat.

Not only that, but there are dozens of amazing vegan treats on the market that are both kinder to the planet, and healthier for your dog. We shared some of our favourite vegan treats in a blog post, which included Soopa bites and Pawtato chews.

Recycle your packaging

Agria recommend feeding tins rather than pouches when adding wet food to your dogs diet – this is because they are much more widely recyclable. Head of sustainability, Janet Hughes added: “If you do use pouches, look for a recycling scheme you can take them to, rather than seeing thousands of them over your pet’s lifetime ending up in landfill.”

Many pet brands have moved over to more eco-conscious packaging in recent years. In July, Denzel’s switched out the packaging for their popular chews for a paper and wood pulp packaging that naturally breaks down in 30 weeks, rather than 300 years. The trees are grown in a sustainable forest and the brand has so far offset two tonnes of CO2e by planting trees for every pack sold at Sainsbury’s, Ocado and BP.

Buy in bulk

If you can afford to, buy the largest size bags of dog food you can, and where possible, recycle the packaging. Not only will this reduce the amount of waste, it also reduces the amount of deliveries, and helps save you money in the long run, as larger bags usually have some form of discount.

Weigh your dog’s dinner

Always weigh out food accurately to reduce waste. It means you’ll be able to get into a routine of when you need to order your dogs food – for example, we know a 12kg bag lasts our dogs four weeks. Not only that, but it has the added benefit of keeping your pet at a healthy weight, meaning they’re less likely to need trips to the vets for conditions contributed to by weight gain.

Make mindful choices with toys

A whole rubbish truck of plastic is dumped into our oceans every minute – with many dog treats being packaged in single-use plastic, and toys being made from it. It’s a massive problem in the pet industry, and it’s estimated that there will be 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste in landfill by 2050 – that’s around 240,000,000 great danes… or 8,000,000,000 chihuahuas.

When it comes to toys for your pet, avoid plastic, flimsy toys and look for durable, long-lasting items that will last and last. Many brands are now creating pet toys made from recyclable materials, too. Recently we’ve really liked the toys found in the sustainable subscription box BearKind, where each item is researched and selected based on how eco-friendly it is.

We also really like the Beco hemp ropes, and more natural chews that double up as toys, like the Anco root. 

Poo bags

Always check that you’re using compostable or biodegradable poo bags as these will fully disintegrate into natural materials. Using these could save over 700 plastic bags from going to landfill per dog, every year. If every dog owner in the UK switched from plastic bags to biodegradable – this would account for 8.75 billion plastic bags every year.

We’re big fans of the Adios poo bags that we received in our Hounds Chew Box in January, as they come in a rainbow of colours. Combine it with a colourful Doo-Kee made with a bioplastic made from renewable resources – carrying a bag of poo never looked so cool.

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