6 Ways to be a More Sustainable Pet Owner

How you and your furry friend(s) can make a difference towards the environment.

We reduce, reuse and recycle, say no to plastic straws and look at the ingredients used in our foods, but how do we do the same for our pets?

There are many ways to include your furry best friend in the eco-conscious movement and make sure you’re both doing your best for the environment.


Here are some ways you can be a sustainable pet parent:

Adopt, don’t shop

If you’re looking into getting a little furball of your own, or adding to your fur family, consider
getting them from a rescue organization instead of a breeder and adding to the environmental
complications of overpopulation.

According to the ASPCA, an estimated 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters
nationwide every year. Think about giving an animal who already needs a home somewhere to
live and love instead of getting your pet from a breeder.

Spay or neuter your pets

Another way to make sure that you lessen the burden of animal overpopulation on the planet is
making sure your pets can’t create more little furry ones and put their own lives at risk.

According to the Humane Society: “The average lifespan of spayed and neutered cats and dogs is
demonstrably longer than the lifespan of those not.”

They cite studies that found neutered male dogs lived 18% longer and spayed female dogs lived
23% longer. Spayed female cats in the study lived 39% longer and neutered male cats lived 62%
longer.

Spaying or neutering your pets gives them better quality of life, reduces risks of illness and
they’re less likely to stray.

Try sustainable pet food

Do your research and find brands that use the “leftovers” from animal agriculture that humans
won’t eat and would otherwise be wasted that are also sustainably packaged. Make sure you
talk to your vet about the nutritional needs of your pet first as you don’t want them eating foods
that aren’t good for them either.

Another option is making your own pet food, but this can be a time consuming and expensive
route to take.

Make sure their feeding bowls are BPA-free – if you can use glass or another sustainable
material, please do so!

Choose green pet toys

Try to limit the amount of toys you have that have harmful plastics in them. There are many
companies who make toys, beds and other pet supplies from sustainable materials or recycled
waste.

You can also have a look at thrift stores and yard sales for gently used pet toys or kids toys that
can be given to your animal companion. Just make sure to remove any small plastic parts that
your dog, cat or other animal might be able to swallow.

Ever heard of Buy Nothing groups? You can find your hyper localised group where you can share,
donate or receive things like pet toys for free.

You can also swap unwanted pets toys and accessories in your local community outside of these
groups with other people who might have a use for them instead.

Or, you can donate those toys your fur baby no longer plays with to a shelter or thrift store.

[Note: If you’re in the US, Earthhero* is a great place to find sustainable pet toys and products!]

Use non-toxic pest prevention

Grooming your pets regularly, washing their bedding in hot sopay water, and vacuuming
regularly should be enough to control fleas in your home, but sometimes chemical products are
necessary for when those pests just won’t leave your pooch or your kitten alone.

Many every day, store-bought flea and tick products like collars, topical treatments and sprays
contain chemicals that could be harmful to our furry companions as well as humans, according
to the NRDC.

You could ask your vet about oral flea prevention medication, but this might not be a realistic
option for all pet owners.

If you do need to use chemical products, try less toxic products with s-methoprene or
pyriproxyfen as ingredients and to avoid products that include synthetic neonicotinoids (like
imidacloprid and dinotefuran), which are known to harm pollinators and could be toxic to kids’
developing brains.

Healthline has suggestions on how to keep your home flea free inside and out naturally.

Be careful with pet waste

Never leave dog waste outside on the ground as it could be carried into waterways and make
people and other pets sick. Always use biodegradable poop bags to get rid of animal waste, but
if you can, you could try composting it to feed your non edible plants! You could use a regular
compost bin or find one specifically made for animal waste.

Never flush cat waste (even with flushable cat litter) as their faeces can also contaminate water
and affect marine life with Toxoplasma gondii.

According to the Treehugger website: “Cat poop quickly dehydrates and hardens in litter, so by
the time you get around to scooping it, it’s basically petrified and likely to create a clog.” This
isn’t good for your plumbing either. Rather throw it in the trash.


What are some ways you make sure your pets are doing their bit for the environment?



Photos from Pexels


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Follow Carmen Williams:
Carmen lives with her cat, Peeves in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a freelance journalist and copywriter with over 10 years' experience in all things digital. She’s written on various subjects from finance, to sustainability, to relationships for many brands, including Aurora Sustainability, TotalBeauty and News24.

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