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Being a dog parent comes with many challenges.

Chewed shoes (or homework), poo to clean up, anxiously searching the streets when they go on adventures, and protecting them from bities like snakes and ticks.

But when you’re anything like me, you have another thing to worry about – the environmental impact of pet ownership.

There are a number of things to consider when it comes to pets and the environment, including waste, the accessories you buy for them, even feeding them.

I’ve outlined the issues to be aware of and some possible solutions below.

 

Food

Every dog needs food, and most dog food comes in packaging. However, don’t despair – there are a few things you can do.

First of all, if you buy meat for your dog, and/or bones, try to get these from your local butcher instead of a large grocery chain. You can ask to have your meat and bones put into a reusable container that you’ve brought from home.

I go into my butcher every week with my containers for both dog and people food. What’s great is that they’ve started encouraging everyone to do it! Both by mentioning it and putting up signs.

Most large supermarkets have a policy against this, but if you’ve found one that will do it, good for you! They try to avoid it so that if you get sick from a container that might be dirty, you can’t come back and blame their food.

When it comes to dry food, try to buy it in bulk when you can. I don’t know of anywhere that sells unpackaged dry pet food, but please let me know if you do!

Buying in bulk reduces the amount of plastic packaging a bit, and also saves multiple trips to the shops – reducing emissions and fuel use, not to mention your time and money.

 

Treaties

There are a number of places you can buy unpackaged treats and nibbles for your dog.

I like Petstock in Australia because they have a rewards system and a good range of packaging-free dog treats.

If you do have to buy your treats packaged, again try to go for bulk. There are plenty of pet superstores who sell large quantities of treats and nibbles.

If you like to cook, you can always make your own dog treats. Just be sure to do your research so that you’re not overloading them with the wrong types of nutrients.

Some treats can also be found for free! If you own horses or any other hoofed animals, hoof trimmings are a delicious snack that will keep your dogs busy for some time. Horns from goats or deer also make fantastic, very long lasting chew toys.

 

Accessories

When it comes to purchasing accessories like collars, leads, beds, and anything else you need for your doggo – make sure it’s going to last.

Whilst that gimmicky collar looks cute online, consider the fact that it’s not built to last. You’ll spend a few dollars on it and use it a couple of times until some part of it fails, then it will go to landfill or sit around in a corner doing nothing for months on end.

Make the effort and invest in high quality items that are actually worth your money and that will last you for the foreseeable future.

An added bonus of making high quality purchases is that you have the peace of mind that your animal is secure and their collar isn’t going to break and let them loose while you’re out and about.

It also saves you money in the long run because you aren’t constantly buying new stuff.

 

 

Waste

Nobody likes dealing with dog poo, but it must be done, at least in public areas. The traditional solution to this problem is hundreds and hundreds of plastic bags.

Thankfully, there are a number of alternatives.

The most mainstream alternative is biodegradable plastic bags. However, I’ve never been a fan of these. I’m not fully convinced they’re any better for the environment. Often it’s just plastic with additives that make it break up faster, but that just means there’s lots more microplastics out there. The tiny fragments never go away.

And compostable bags need to actually be placed in compost-like conditions before they break down, not just landfill or thrown on the side of the road.

Another alternative is using leftover materials from home, such as newspaper. If you double it over and form a bit of a scoop, it’s not so bad. Not any worse than feeling the gross warmth of poop through a plastic bag…

The final alternative is… A spade and a bucket. Pretty self explanatory. Just carry them with you, and use if you need.

A bonus of this method is that it makes it easier to pick up rubbish you come across on your walk. Why not make your space healthier and nicer to look at?

When it comes to cleaning up at home, you don’t have to dispose of the poop in landfill. If you have a bush area that’s large enough, you can just fling it in there with a shovel.

Or, if you don’t have the space, check out this pet poo composter. It composts your dog poo so you don’t have to worry about its environmental impact. Please note I haven’t tried this, as we have a lot of bush area for the dog to poop in.

Also, if you’re training for indoors, reusable training pads exist! So try to make use of those rather than the wasteful single-use ones.

 

Toys

I’m going to say this loudly because it’s a pet peeve (ha ha) of mine – GET DOG TOYS THAT LAST. I can’t say it enough.

You know how you have favourite things? And when you were a kid had a favourite toy? Dogs are the same. They don’t need a new toy to tear into pieces every single day.

My dog has two toys, both of which have lasted over a year, and he rarely tires of them.

Buying something new every week just to send it to landfill hurts your wallet and the earth. Not to mention eats up all your time picking up the remains of the toy.

You don’t even have to buy toys, if you’re creative. You can fashion your own by using sticks or even recycling your textiles into a chew toy like I mention in this post.

Another note on toys – they’re generally there to improve the quality of play time, not to substitute for play time.

Your dog wants to hang out with you more than anything else, so buy less and spend more time with them!

Go to the beach, or on a doggy date. Even just let him hang out with you whilst you read a book.

 

A final note – try to make sure everything you do buy is produced locally. It might not be possible for all of it, but do what you can because it makes a difference.

Let me know in the comments what you do to reduce your dog’s impact on the environment!

Image credit: Yuki Dog on Unsplash

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