As pet owners, we all want to do what we can for the health and wellbeing of our furry friends. But did you know, the way you treat your pets can have a surprisingly large impact on the environment, too? Everything from what you feed them to the pet products you use can have an effect. At The Insurance Emporium, we’ve taken some lessons from our friend Mr Benn on how to be more green. That’s why we’ve put together our guide to eco-friendly pet ownership, to help you reduce your carbon pawprint!
You Are What You Eat
Both pet food and its packaging can have a huge impact on the environment, especially as more and more owners are using human-grade meat in their pets’ meals. There are a few easy ways you could change your cat or dog’s food to have less of a negative impact on the environment:
1. Eco-Friendly Packaging
Although pet food packaging has changed in recent years, some brands still use recyclable paper bags or cardboard boxes when selling pet food, rather than plastic. If you do buy plastic pouches, Terracycle have a Pet Food Recycling Programme, helping pet owners to recycle their plastic food pouches. Alternatively, some pet shops might offer loose food, allowing you to eschew disposable packaging altogether and bring your own food containers.
2. Check the Ingredients
While your pet’s health should always come first, what you feed your furry friend can have an environmental impact, too. While vegetarian diets might not suit all pets, especially cats, small changes can help the environment, like ensuring food containing fish is certified sustainable. Some companies even offer insect-based pet food, which Yora* claim is fully suited to your dog’s digestive system. Remember, it’s advisable to consult your vet before changing your pet’s diet.
3. DIY Pet Food
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could try making your own pet food! However, it can be difficult to maintain the right balance of nutrients for your pets, and might be more expensive than pre-made pet food. If you want to try your hand at homemade pet food, it might be best to start with treats, rather than their whole diet. Again, always consult your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.
It’s not just your furry friend’s food that can have an environmental impact! There are some products that might be even easier to replace that could make you and your dog or cat’s lifestyles more eco-friendly.
Ditch the Plastic
The more eco-conscious pet owner might want to avoid purchasing plastic and electric toys for their dog or cat and opt instead for toys made from recyclable materials. Lots of plastic pet toys could end up in landfill, where they don’t easily decompose!
Using organic, non-toxic grooming products like shampoo is not only better for the environment, it’s also better for your pets! There are eco-friendly alternatives to other products too, like flea and tick prevention, which are free from many of the more harmful chemicals.
Clean It Up!
Chances are, you already clean up after your dog or cat at least once a day, but did you know there are steps you could take to make the process a little friendlier to the environment?
Biodegradable dog waste bags can prove more eco-friendly than their alternatives, but make sure you do your research. Some companies’ definitions of “biodegradable” might not quite line up with your own.
While simply putting your dog waste bags in the bin might be an easy solution, it’s not the most environmentally friendly. Composting may not be the best idea either, especially if using the compost for edible crops, as dog and cat faeces contains harmful bacteria. Instead, the most environmentally responsible option might be to find specific dog waste bins, which you should be able to find in local parks.
As easy as the solution might seem, you should never flush cat waste down the toilet. Cat faeces can contain a parasite called toxoplasma, which can survive sewage treatment and could cause serious health problems to humans. If this gets into our rivers and oceans, more wildlife could be at risk of infection. Cat litter shouldn’t be flushed either, as it can eventually become stuck in the U-bend and clog your toilet.
Pick of the Litter
When deciding which cat litter to use, bear in mind that some products are more eco-friendly than others. To make sure your cat litter is green, look for the FSC “tick-tree” logo, which ensures the product is made using more sustainable well-sourced or recycled wood-based materials.
Walk the Walk
If you’re a dog owner, do your best to find local routes to walk your pup. Doing a short drive several times a day to go for a walk can really add up and increase your carbon pawprint. If it’s not too far, consider walking to the place that you usually exercise them, to give both you and your canine companion more outdoor time!
Out and About
The same goes for errands like going to the shop. If you’re out and about locally, instead of taking the car, why not kill two birds with one stone and walk there instead? Your dog will love the extra exercise!
Consider Spaying or Neutering Your Pet
Unless you’re seriously considering breeding your animals, it might be a good idea to think about getting them neutered, as neutering can come with a variety of benefits for the environment, yourself and your pet. The key environmental benefit of neutering cats and dogs is simply reducing the number of puppies and kittens born. Not only does this reduce the number of potential unwanted pets that are left in shelters, they’ll also consume less, meaning less energy and resources will be required to produce pet food. Reducing the amount of food needed also reduces waste in the production and packaging of your dog or cat’s food. Other benefits include:
1. Reducing Overpopulation
One of the largest benefits of neutering your pet is helping to reduce overpopulation of dogs or cats. The RSPCA rescue 60 cats per day, so neutering could reduce the number of unplanned pets, limiting the potential number of strays and pets that end up in shelters. This helps to free up space and resources for animal shelters, leaving less stray cats and dogs.
2. Healthy Living
Neutering or spaying your dog or cat could help them lead longer, healthier lives. It can reduce or even eliminate the risk of some tumours or cancers, like testicular cancer in males and uterus infections and cancers in females.
3. Behavioural Changes
Female dogs and cats won’t have heat cycles if they have been spayed, and male pets will be less likely to spray or mark their territory after being neutered. Male pets may also be better behaved after neutering.
Adopt a Pet
While it can be tempting to buy a puppy or kitten from a breeder, it can be an extremely rewarding experience to rehome a dog or cat instead. You could be saving a pet’s life, and ensuring at least one more animal has found their forever home! Rehoming could go some way in reducing overcrowding in animal shelters too, and adopting an adult pet has its own benefits. Adult dogs and cats might be house-trained, and need less supervision than puppies or kittens. In other words, they might be less likely to destroy your furniture!
We hope this guide helps you on your journey to becoming a more eco-friendly pet owner! Whether you have a dog or a cat, you might want to think about taking out insurance for your pet. At The Insurance Emporium, our Dog Insurance and Cat Insurance can include standard benefits such as cover for Vet’s Fees up to £8,000.^ You can then customise your insurance with our range of Optional Benefits to suit you and your furry friend’s needs. You could even receive up to 30% discount† on your policy!
* This blog is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Yora.
^ Vet’s Fees cover up to £8,000 available on lunar monthly Lifetime Gold policies.
† The 30% discount is made up of 20% Introductory Discount plus 10% Multi-pet Discount (if appropriate). The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies and one premium payment on annual policies.
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