By Charles Street
Have you ever thought about the environmental impact your dog might have, or taken the time to research exactly what is in puppy chow?
There are approximately 78 million dogs currently living in America, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and that number isn’t going down anytime soon. It’s up to us to ensure our dogs are as happy and healthy as they can be without doing damage to the environment.
Rethink the Contents of That Doggy Bag
When your dog tears through the pet door and into the kitchen for dinner, do you know what you’re putting in his bowl? Living Green Magazine reported that the world’s oldest dog, a Border Collie named Bramble, made it to the age of 27 by living on a vegan diet.
Many deem it unnatural for a dog to subside solely on veggies, but dogs are only carnivores by genus, when in actuality they’re omnivores. This means they can digest a buffet of various foods.
Furthermore, the livestock used in many dog foods is bred en masse, creating more harmful CO2 in the atmosphere than cars, according to a report by Independent UK.
Fifteen percent of typical dog food meat is called “byproduct,” which contains organs, skin, bone fragments and tissues. Byproduct doesn’t just fuel the problem of shrinking resources and pollution, it’s also pumped with antibiotics and carcinogenic preservatives long before it ever meets the doggy dish.
What is Your Dog’s Ecological Impact?
A team of researchers from New Zealand, Robert and Brenda Vale, caused a commotion when they published a report entitled “Time to Eat The Dog?” about the environmental impact of owning a pet.
The Vales surmised that owning a medium-size dog has double the ecological devastation of owning a Toyota Land Cruiser. The researchers urge pet owners not to think of this as an argument against pet ownership, but a call to action urging you to rethink your pet’s impact on the world.
Not sure where to start? Try these suggestions:
* Meatless Monday: Simply replacing your dog’s byproduct diet once weekly, you can make a monumental difference in their health and overall impact.
* Recycle Your Own Food: Recent estimates by Live Science show that Americans waste 30 to 40 percent of their food, a growing problem. Take the time to research the dog-friendly foods you might be throwing away. Modern Dog Magazine features an easy, go-to guide for Fido-friendly foods.
* Buy Organic: Newman’s Own Organics, Sojos Raw Dog Food Mixes, and Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Organic Formulas are just some of the low-impact, high-health formulas you can feed your dog. They might be a little more costly, but the quality of life and averted environmental harm make them more than worth it.
Although the dogs of the past may have battled each other for wooly mammoth scraps, they didn’t have to deal with the chemicals we’re faced with today.
Next time it’s chow time for your pooch, stop and take a moment to consider what your Kibbles ‘n Bits mean for Fido’s longevity and the world at large.
Charles Street is a journalist who lives in New York.