5 Ways to Be a More Eco-Friendly Dog Parent

Millions of households across the United States include a dog. And our dogs certainly have an impact on how environmentally friendly our lifestyle is. Ready to turn your dog into an eco-warrior? Here are five ways to be a more eco-friendly dog parent.

1. Spay or neuter your pet

small terrier puppy in a kennel at an animal shelterCredit: DanBrandenburg/Getty Images

Spaying and neutering your pets would technically fall under the “reduce” category of the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle). According to the ASPCA, roughly 6.5 million companion animals go through U.S. animal shelters each year. Some are adopted, and others are strays who go back to their owners. But sadly about 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year. And in many cases, these are healthy, loving animals who simply weren’t lucky enough to find a household to adopt them.

That’s where spaying and neutering come in — as well as adopting versus allowing a breeder to bring more animals into this situation. Every little bit helps to put a dent in the homeless pet population. Not only do you reduce the number of shelter animals, but you also minimize the strays on the streets who often lead painful, shortened lives and might become nuisances in the community. Not to mention spaying and neutering can help increase your pet’s health and longevity. So do your part to reduce pet overpopulation, as well as the resources that go into managing it.

Man  Picking up / cleaning up dog droppings

2. Properly dispose of pet waste

Disposing of pet waste is a bit tricky because your ideal eco-friendly techniques typically won’t work. Here are some methods you shouldn’t use, as they can harm the environment, according to PetMD.

First, don’t flush dog poop down the toilet. This can send parasites and other pathogens that aren’t killed at water treatment facilities into the waterways. Consequently, this can harm ecosystems, especially marine life. Plus, people can become sick and actually end up using more resources (e.g., lots of toilet flushing for a stomach bug) than you thought you were saving by flushing the waste in the first place. Similarly, composting is not an option for dog poop (unless your community has a dog waste composting program), as it also allows the spread of pathogens.

So what can you do? Bagging the waste and throwing it in the trash is usually your best option. But on the bright side, you can go green with your poop bags. More and more companies are offering biodegradable bags, though sometimes that can be a bit misleading. Not all companies have appropriately tested their products in typical landfill conditions, so it’s important to do your homework before buying. “Choose a company that has testing to back up their biodegradable claims,” PetMD says.

3. Reduce your dog food paw print

Labrador retriever eating out of a stainless steel dog food bowlCredit: Chalabala/Getty Images

Buying dog food and other supplies in bulk helps to reduce packaging waste, as well as the number of trips you take to the store. “Pay attention to packaging materials, and try to buy products packaged in recycled or recyclable materials,” the American Kennel Club suggests. Plus, look for foods that have eco-friendly ingredients, such as certified sustainable seafood.

Even better, skip the packaging altogether, and make food at home for your dog. You don’t have to cook their whole diet (unless you really want to and know how to do it right). But forgoing the bagged and boxed treats in favor of ones you make yourself — or even just replacing them with some fresh fruits and veggies — can reduce waste and energy consumption. And that will certainly add up over the course of your dog’s life to reduce their carbon paw print.

4. Choose eco-friendly pet products

You might already choose environmentally conscious companies for your human products. And it’s just as important to support those types of companies that make pet products to encourage their growth in the industry (but keep your antenna up for greenwashing).

Just like with dog food, look for items — leashes, toys, cleaning supplies, etc. — that are packaged in eco-friendly materials. And keep an eye out for plant-based products. “When it comes to pet supplies, one of the most common plant-based materials you’ll find is hemp,” according to PetMD. Hemp — used for items, such as leashes and collars — is durable and doesn’t need much water or harmful chemicals to grow.

You also can look for toys and other products made from recycled materials, such as plastics turned into fiberfill. And to really recycle, look around your home for items you can turn into dog toys, bedding, etc. Plus, put in the effort to mend old items until they’re no longer safe for your dog.

Moreover, if you no longer need some of your dog products, consider donating them to an animal shelter — a great form of reusing. Shelters often welcome gently used leashes, collars, harnesses, beds, crates, toys, towels and more. Just make sure you call ahead about your donations, as sometimes shelters have too much of a specific item.

5. Grow a green garden and lawn

Great Dane lying next to flowers from a knocked-over planterCredit: ChristopherBernard/Getty Images

There are many reasons to grow a more eco-friendly garden. For instance, you contribute to a balanced ecosystem, reduce environmental toxins and use fewer resources. But what does that have to do with your dog?

Green gardening practices and being a dog parent actually go hand in hand. A major issue for both the environment and our pets is the use of synthetic lawn chemicals. Not only do these chemicals pollute our water and kill beneficial species (among other consequences), but they also pose serious dangers to your dog.

Ingesting fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other products (including some organic varieties) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and even death in a dog, according to VetStreet. Even if you don’t see your dog ingest anything while outside, they’ll still get the products on their paws — which they’ll certainly lick later. So try to use the most natural products possible on your property. Or better yet, grow low-maintenance plants that don’t need these products, and take pride in knowing that your garden is benefiting both your pet and the planet.

Main image credit: al_louc/Getty Images

54 comments

Richard B
Richard B12 hours ago

TYFS

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Peter B
Peter B13 hours ago

thanks for posting

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Daniel N
Daniel N14 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Olivia H
Olivia H23 days ago

Thanks for the advice

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitney24 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitney24 days ago

Wonderful dogx Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitney24 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis Whitney24 days ago

All so awesome Thank you for caring and sharing

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Leo C
Leo Custer25 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Michael F

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

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