Top Tips To Becoming A Green Pet Owner

Top Tips For Greener Pet Ownership

All pet owners have an obligation to be responsible, not only to their pet, but to the shared environment around them.  This can often crossover with what’s known as ‘green’ pet ownership which is growing in popularity, but what does green pet ownership mean?

'Australians are spending $12 billion a year on their pet animals'-The Australian, April 2017

Aussies are pampering their pets more than ever before. There are doggy day care centres, dog yoga retreats and even pet counsellors; there is also a huge rise in popularity for green and ethical pet products. The market for greener pet, and in particular dog food, accessories and treatments, is a real growth area for the pet industry. Australians are seeking to understand more about how their products are manufactured, the waste packaging created, and the ethical nature of pet products and brands.

How Can I Become A Green Dog Owner?

There are plenty of ways to become a greener pet owner, and by making a few adjustments to the day to day care of your dog, and purchasing wisely, you can reduce carbon footprint, minimise waste, and be a little kinder to the planet at the same time. 

Get To The Rescue Centre!

Buying from pet shops, or unregistered breeders is bad news for the environment and the puppies and mothers, who are over bred and can have health problems. Unless there is a burning desire for a pure breed, head down to the local rescue centre and offer a good boy a forever home.  Yes, some dogs will need extra care and attention, they may be frightened or suffered a past we will never find out about, but for the most part, there are plenty of dogs and cats looking for a place to feel warm, secure, and loved.  By rescuing a dog, you reduce the market for puppy farms  and you take the pressure of the local dog rescue.

Green Pet Food Choices

Firstly, be aware of smart branding and advertising. All because some dry pet food says ‘natural’ it may not be.  Look for labels such as non-toxic, not tested on animals, and seek out any green affiliation or organic certifications.  Not sure where to start? ABC’s The Checkout did an eye-opening piece on what pet food labels really mean. For example: did you know that a dog food labelled as beef, needs to only have 20% beef in it, and that protein can be any part of the cow? The rest can be stuffed full of bi-products and empty nutrients. Also, try to see past pet brands which offer vague claims such as anti-aging, or calming. The only words you can rely on are the ingredients.

Once you have the inside of the pet food packet sorted, it’s time to assess the packaging itself.  Can you recycle the packaging? Is it better to buy in bulk to save on wastage? Is the packaging biodegradable?


Dealing With Dog Waste The Green Way!

What goes in must come out! Yes, it’s the least glamorous part of dog ownership, but cleaning up after your pet is both necessary, and minimises the toxic impact on the environment. Let’s start with some gross science; did you know one single gram of dog poop can house up to 23 million coliform bacteria.  It would be wrong to leave that festering in our shared parks, lawns, and green spaces for children and others to pick up, so use a dog poop bag and make sure you have some with you all the time.  One way to ensure you don’t forget, is to fill a dog waste bag with a few others and then tie to your dog leash. You’ll never forget again!  You may think you are doing a good thing recycling and reusing your shopping and grocery bags, but these bags do not break down in general waste and add to landfill. Opt for a biodegradable bag which is designed for the job at hand (excuse the pun!). Bags designed for dog waste are tougher, hide the smell, and by choosing a biodegradable option, you are helping reduce what accumulates at the landfill.

Dog poop is poisonous!  Don’t use your pet waste as fertiliser on your veggie patch! The toxins can cause you to become ill and also kick up an almighty stink in your backyard.  Instead, invest in a pet waste garden composter, designed to break down all pet waste in a safe and environmentally friendly way. All you need to do is find a safe spot in the garden away from any edible, or sensitive plants. Then add the waste, along with a grain based powder which quickly and gently breaks down the poop, creating a safe level soil fertiliser.


Green Pet Accessories

When it comes to your fur baby's favourite toys and accessories, quality over quantity is the clear choice when it comes to green dog ownership.  Plastic bowls bought from the local dollar store will have been made cheaply from virgin material, and may come from large pollution inducing factories with poor workers rights.  Follow the product right back to the manufacturer if you can.  The easiest way to do this is to buy Australian. Look for the Australian made symbol on products and opt for clay or stainless steel pet bowls.

Dog toys are often plastic or rubber, so this is where you should look for recycled toys, or toys that are durable and built to last longer than a 5 minute run around the park.

Your pet can also contribute!  When you take your dog out for a walk, do they behave? Or do they terrorise the native wildlife?  It’s a little harder with cats, but maybe consider keeping your feline friend in at night.

As you can see, there are many different levels of green pet ownership, and it is up to you which level, if any, you commit to.  As long as you are a responsible pet owner, make careful choices about picking up after your pet, and the nourishment you give them, you are on your way to becoming a little greener too!

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