Our pets are part of the climate problem.  These tips can help you minimize your carbon footprint

Our four-legged friends don’t drive gas-guzzling SUVs or use energy-consuming appliances, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a climate impact. In fact, researchers have found that pets play a significant role in the climate crisis.

But what do Barkley and Whiskers have to do with global warming? It’s the products we buy for them that have to be looked at more closely.

Their mostly meat diet is the biggest contributor to their carbon footprint, which requires an abundance of energy, land and water to produce. And feed production emits huge amounts of gases that warm the planet.

According to a 2017 study, feeding dogs and cats creates the equivalent of about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide in the US every year. That’s roughly the same impact as 13.6 million cars on the road. And if our furry friends formed a single country, it would rank fifth in global meat consumption behind China, the US, Brazil and Russia, according to UCLA professor and study author Gregory Okin.

But don’t panic. Saying goodbye to your best friends is not the answer.

In addition to all the joy they provide, pets have a positive impact on our physical health and mental well-being. Having a pet in the family is associated with less stress, fewer heart attacks, lower rates of depression and increased self-esteem.

“Our work does not mean that we are ‘against’ having pets,” said Pim Martens, a professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Maastricht who has investigated the impact of pets on the planet. “There are also a lot of benefits. Just watch out for side effects.”

So what should a worried pet owner do? Here are some ways to minimize your pets’ environmental impact while caring for your “furry fleet”.

Evaluate your pet’s diet

First and foremost, responsible owners who intend to make significant changes to their pet’s diet should speak with their veterinarian to ensure it is suited to their pet’s needs.

In fact, if you’re a proud cat owner, you shouldn’t even think about changing your diet. Cats are carnivores, so they must eat meat, according to Angela Frimberger, a veterinarian with Vets for Climate Action.

Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores and don’t necessarily need to eat meat at every meal, let alone steak.

“I sincerely want pets to be fed a good quality diet that is nutritionally appropriate for them,” Frimberger said. “But for most healthy pets, the tendency to give them premium quality ingredients has to do with our habit of looking at our pets’ needs based on what we’d like rather than what they actually need or like. We must remember that what appeals to us does not necessarily correspond to the nutritional quality that the pet needs.”

Frimberger noted that there are new food products on the market that are worth checking out, particularly for dogs, including lab-grown meat.

A 2014 study found that insects are a nutritious source of protein for pets.

“Insect feeds can be nutritionally complete and are starting to enter the market around the world,” said Frimberger. “They can also be a solution for pets who have food allergies to traditional protein sources.”

And, of course, only feed your pet the amount it needs. He will be healthier and feel better if he is not overweight.

reduce waste

Buy toys genuinely thinking about your pet’s well-being. Resist the urge to make unnecessary purchases. (CNN)

While items such as toys, bowls, litter, litter bags and leashes are necessary for your pet, we should be mindful of durability, supply chain and whether the product is recyclable. This is as important as the product itself.

For cats, look for the most environmentally friendly litter option, such as one made from organic materials instead of clay. Although clay is a natural soil mineral, it must be mined, which contributes to soil erosion, habitat destruction and groundwater contamination.

For dogs, choose biodegradable stool bags and always pick up their waste wherever you are. Research has found that if we do not pick up dog waste, this can cause harmful microorganisms such as roundworms, E. coli and giardia to emerge, which can survive in the backyard for up to four years, which is a risk to human health. .

Okin recommends flushing pet waste down the toilet.

“Our water system is designed to deal with toxic waste and to keep these pollutants out of the environment,” said Okin. Just make sure you don’t flush other things down the toilet like litter bags or cat litter. Just pour feces.

And while it can be tempting to dress your pets for outings and holidays, it’s important to purchase items with only the pet’s well-being in mind. In other words, ask yourself this: what does the pet really need, and what is it buying just to satisfy the urge to shop.

“We have to think about the pet’s real needs rather than our drive for consumerism,” Frimberger said.

adopt responsibly

Smaller pets, including mice, birds and turtles, have a smaller climate impact. (CNN)

The general rule is that larger pets will have a greater climate impact than smaller ones, mainly because they need more food. Therefore, you can consider smaller breeds or species if you want to minimize their impact on the planet. A Chihuahua’s carbon footprint will be much smaller than that of a Saint Bernard, for example.

You should also take into account that some breeds of animals tend to have more health problems.

“Avoiding animals with known health problems will reduce the need for veterinary intervention, which has a carbon footprint, and most importantly it will reduce unnecessary suffering in terms of health and well-being,” said Gudrun Ravetz of Vet Sustain.

“Small rodents and birds are great options,” said Okin. “Snakes, turtles and reptiles can also have a very low impact, for those who like these kinds of animals.”


/ Kimberly Richardson

Source: Tvi24

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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