Dogs improve our quality of life by being enormous happiness boosters and little fluffs of joy; but without proper care and attention, they can wreak havoc on the environment. Read on to discover some top tips for turning your dog zero waste – or at the very least – minimal waste.
1. Compost your dog’s poop
There’s about 4.8 million dogs in Australia (roughly 89 million in the US) and a medium-sized dog produces about 180 kilograms of poo per year. That’s a lot of poop. Rather than letting it end up in landfill, you should ideally invest in a good pet waste compost system. You can either buy one or DIY, but either way, you’re doing a solid for the planet.
If you’re on the go with your pooch and composting the poo doesn’t seem feasible, then invest in some doggy poop bags that are biodegradable.
2. Make pet food or buy in bulk
When it comes to feeding your dog in an eco-friendly way, there are two ways you can go about it. There’s the option of making your dog’s food yourself so that you cut down on plastic and general waste. However, even some vets disagree on the exact nutritional balance certain dogs need, so it might be difficult for you to do this yourself if you’re lazy with research!
The other option is to buy your dog’s food in bulk – which basically means going to a store a finding the biggest bag of dog food you can find. Some come in bags upwards of 20 kilograms. You can then recycle the plastic packaging via the REDcycle program (or if you aren’t in Australia, check this post for where you can recycle soft plastics), and of course you can recycle any dog food cans as you normally do.
3. Buy preloved or durable toys
Ever wonder what all those toys at charity shops are for? Most people don’t buy them for kids, they buy them for a very particular type of dog that always needs something to chew. If you own an Aussie shepherd, beagle, boxer, border collie or a golden retriever then you’ll know what I’m talking about. So, rather than letting your pup ruin your favourite shoes or outfit, (how wasteful!) make sure you’re stocked up on plenty of second hand toys for them to sink their teeth into.
4. Washing and grooming
Instead of forking out on large plastic bottles of liquid soap, opt for a package-free pet shampoo bar. You can buy them from many local makers and markets, as well as online. Buying locally sourced, handmade pet shampoo bars will mean you can stay away from many nasties like harsh synthetic ingredients and palm oil. For brushes, clippers and combs, you’ll want to invest in high quality products that last years.
In terms of saving water, consider taking your dog to a beach or lake instead of washing them with fresh water every time. A beach may be sandy, but so long as you towel off all the sand afterwards, your dog will still get quite a decent clean. Alternatively, you could use all the water you collect in a shower bucket over the week, to wash your dog over the weekend.
5. Responsible flea treatment
New dog owners often don’t consider the cost of things like conventional worm and flea treatments, with many products adding quite an expense to the household. On top of the cost, you’ve also got to worry about the environmental impact of some of the strong chemicals in conventional flea products, which can harm your pets and your family as they often contain pesticides like carbamates, DDVP and permethrin. There’s also the option of flea tablets, however they can damage your dog’s health.
What you want to do is go for non-toxic (and cheaper) treatments that will get the job done, so you’re best off turning your head towards the natural treatment options. When you’re shopping for natural flea treatments, you should keep your eyes peeled for ingredients like pyrethrin, d-limonene, diatomaceous earth, nematodes, neem oil, essential oils and resmethrin as they’ll pose little risk to you and your pets. It’s also worth considering chemical free traps that use heat, light and colour to lure fleas in.
It’s also good idea to learn some natural flea prevention strategies, like vacuuming often, keeping your dog’s skin healthy and washing their bedding on a regular basis.
6. Hardy bedding, shelters, collars and leads
Make sure you invest in dog accessories that last the ages. I’m talking chew-proof beds, stainless steel bowls and DIY kennels made of strong materials. You can also get some pretty durable leaches and collars made from eco-friendly materials, like the Henley & Co range.
If you need help with shopping for eco-friendly products for your pet, there’s a list of brands here that might be able to help you.
- Sustainable Pet Ownership: Ways to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Your Pets
- Eco Book Review: “Greening Your Pet Care” by Darcy Matheson
- Get a Sustainable Night’s Sleep With SOL Organics Eco-Friendly and Fair Trade Bedding
- Why There’s No Such Thing As ‘Ethical’ Leather
- 6 Eco-Friendly Ways To Keep Toxins Out Of Your Bedroom
- Are Consumers Really Prepared to Pay More for Ethically Made Fashion? This New Survey Reveals That They Are…