Are Pets Killing the Environment?

What has four paws, loves belly rubs, and is poisoning our planet? Some research points the finger at our fluffy friends—and urges us to be considerate of their carbon pawprints.

Mother Jones recently reported on the book Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, explores what sustainability really means across all of our lifestyle decisions… including our pets.

So what harm are Mr. Whisker Mittens and Fluffy McKissyNose doing? The book’s authors found that:

  • Dogs are the biggest offenders—a medium-sized pup is worse for the planet than a gas-guzzling car, with twice the impact of driving a luxury SUV 10,000 miles.
  • While unscooped poop contaminates waterways, those of us who do scoop usually use bags that aren’t biodegradable.
  • Cats aren’t off the hook either—two million tons of cat litter gets sent to landfill each year, and most of it isn’t biodegradable.
  • Outdoor cat? It can have an impact on the local wildlife, as anyone who’s received a mouse “gift” from their well-meaning friend knows.
  • Nosh time is rough, too. Pet food has an environmental cost when it comes to packaging, shipping, and distribution.
  • Sick pet? Medications and flea and tick treatments add toxic chemicals to the environment.

Of course, even the most eco-conscious pet owner would probably argue that the benefits of having a pet outweighs the impact it has on the earth—they’re important parts of our lives and families. If you’re set on lowering our pet’s carbon pawprint, though, Mother Jones offers some suggestions:

  • Make your own pet food using locally grown, organic products.
  • Make your own litter with something like discarded wood shavings (and hope your cat doesn’t retaliate by peeing in your bed).
  • Buy natural and organic pet care products.


Do you follow any eco-friendly practices when it comes to caring for your pet?

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Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

inspector thirtyseven

Everybody's comparing pets to humans - Yes humans are the worst - they took wild animals and bred them into adorable pets - along time ago.

Bea W.
Bea Wilson5 years ago

I'll be a monkeys auntie, but wait!, I better check it's carbon pawprint first. It must be animal bashing season. Now I need to have more info about carbon pawprints before I start shaming pets, handing out flyers to all the animals to let them know they are harming our environment.

KAROLY Molinari5 years ago

Humans are the evil ones killing everything , the enviroment, the animals, the Planet everything that is worth it

Klaus Peters
Klaus Peters5 years ago

I am a little bit skeptical here, I think a human has a lot bigger carbon footprint than pets (especially a SUV, include the building of the car). Dogs can be controlled easier than cats, cat keepers are worse than the cats themselves, they don't give a damn. They just let them loose day and night, easy. They kill birds and possums but not mice and rats. Dog owners are much more responsible, sure there are some who will abandon a canine and they end up homeless, just because their kids lost interest. Yes, my daughter lost interest after a short time, I looked after him for 18 Y and he died in my arms being my best friend.
My daughter has a Rottweiler now ( I know I was sucked in) but I am happy to be his day care center, while she is at work. She has learned responsibility now and I love to share the Rotti with her. I will never have a cat, but I do love Tigers!

Dale O.

Thanks Barbara D, nor do they construct mile high office towers that thousands of birds smash into (the windows) while they are flying.

greenplanet e.
greenplanet e5 years ago

Food for thought.

Pets have many benefits for humans -- companionship, lower blood pressure, alleviating depression and loneliness, etc.

However, there also seems to be an environmental impact.

Debbie Miller
Debbie Miller5 years ago

I will try to be even more conscious of using kitty products that are better for the environment where the cost is not an issue. Sorry to hear that about cats being hated in Australia ...Lyn. They don't know what they are missing!! Cats are one of the best animals to have as a pet in my opinion.

Lyn H.
Lyn =5 years ago

I'd love to see someone start a campaign in Australia about starting to accept cats as part of our environment - when I've mentioned my theory in conversation I've felt like if it was actually 300 years ago I'd be tarred and feathered!! Cats are really hated here in general in my admittedly limited exposure to the issue - they really don't seem to stand a chance. TNR programs are very new here too, not very well accepted from what I've been able to find out. People would rather shoot their heads off or poison them than try to control them. It makes me feel ashamed.

Shanti S.
S S5 years ago

Thank you.