dog and owner in nature

Greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, are produced around the globe. Notably, the burning of fossil fuels, bulldozing forests, transportation, construction, high-yield agriculture, and livestock management all contribute to rising greenhouse gases. We are all collectively and individually responsible for our impact on the environment, and the pets we care for are no exception. Whether we like it or not, the carbon footprint of pets is growing.

A Hard Look

Pets give us so much to live for. Their unconditional love and emotional support bolster us, and they can even help facilitate a deeper connection to nature when we exercise together outside. 

With global pet care market expectations (from $222 billion to $325 billion over the next seven years), it’s time to take a closer look at what that means for the planet.

A High Cost

The carbon footprint of pets is skyrocketing primarily because of meat-based food production. The land, water, and energy required for livestock management is directly linked to heat-trapping greenhouse gases. For America’s 200 million kibble-eating pets, the equivalent impact on the environment is akin to driving 13 million cars. 

We Are What We Eat

Of all the meat consumed in the U.S. each year, pet meals account for about a quarter of all meat production. A thousand kilograms of carbon dioxide is needed to produce one kilogram of beef; twenty-four kilograms are required for one kilogram of pork. According to some calculations, the diets of American cats and dogs can be linked to major increases in greenhouse gases (in the neighborhood of 64 millions tons of nitrous oxide and methane). 

What Can Be Done

Pet owners may be interested in ways they can affect change, but at the end of the day, their pet still has to eat a high quality food. 

Luckily, there are some great products that not only complete your pet’s nutritional needs, but don’t add to the climate crisis either. Since we know foods containing lamb, beef, or pork can be linked with higher greenhouse gases, check out foods with organically-grown poultry listed as the primary protein. Many foods with high vegetable values may decrease the carbon footprint of pets. 

Before you make the switch to a more earth-friendly diet, be sure that your pet’s veterinarian is aware of the change. It can take a pet several weeks to fully adopt a new meal plan.

Carbon Footprint of Pets

Additionally, we can reduce the carbon footprint of pets in these ways:

  • Purchasing biodegradable or compostable waste bags.
  • Clay-free cat litter is a better alternative, as conventional clay litter is strip mined and extracted from the Earth. It also cannot be composted. Instead, try a green litter that lists baking soda, plant extracts, wheat, or pine shavings in the ingredients. 
  • Set up a separate, in-ground compost pile just for your pet’s waste to reduce the spread of pathogens. There are some great kits that come with a nontoxic septic starter. 

Pet Care Forever

Due to the positive impact pets have on humankind, ownership isn’t going anywhere. However, we can all do our best to reduce the carbon footprint of pets for a cleaner, healthier environment for all.

Please give us a call at (704) 334-4684 with any questions or concerns. We’re always here for you at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care.