How to be an Eco Friendly Dog Owner

In a world where looking out for the environment and being socially responsible is becoming increasingly important, we as consumers are starting to become more aware of the importance of buying ethically.  This is starting to trickle down into the world of dog products and we are beginning to see more and more companies providing a wider range of products for our canine companions that are ethically sourced and produced.

It can be difficult to know which companies offer the best products.  We thought it would be useful to provide you with a guide of some of the brands that are ahead of the curve and offer great products that are good for the environment, your purse and for your dog.  We are also letting you know about new and innovative developments in the world of dogs that have an ethical slant.

Dog Food

Did you know that over 20% of global meat consumption is attributed to pet food?  This could have a negative impact in terms of carbon monoxide production levels and subsequently on the environment.

Whilst there are a number of vegan foods out on the market for dogs, there is still a lot of debate about whether this provides appropriate nutrient levels to keep your dog healthy and happy.

Recently, a new type of food has been launched on the doggy market.  The protein source comes from insects rather than from other meat sources.  This is being heralded as much more sustainable and better for the environment.  Some nutritional experts argue though that there is not enough data available yet to substantiate whether this is a fully viable alternative but it is something to consider and ‘watch this space’ in terms of its reception.

Some argue that much of the meat sources that go into dog food are the leftovers from the human meat market (the offal, heart, lung, kidney etc), so our dogs are not adding as much additional meat production to the overall figures as we may think.

In the meantime, another option to consider if you want to feed your dog more ethically is brands that source their meat from organic production and sustainable sources.  Some of these include Orijen and Acana and Open Farm.  By purchasing diets that contain meats like venison, you know they are likely to have been raised more ethically.  Deer are never factory farmed. Beef and Lamb also often have the biggest impact on our environment in terms of meat production.  

If you wish to consider making a home-cooked diet for your dog so that you can select ethical ingredients, we would always recommend consulting with an expert and qualified Canine Nutritionist to ensure that you are giving your dog the right balance of nutrients that they need to thrive.

It is also worth considering the packaging that is used for your dog food and treats.  If you feed your dog wet food, that can be a heck of a lot of tins that you go through.  Make sure the tins are being recycled, even better if they have been made from recycled materials.  There are a number of wet food options on the market now that are kept in recyclable cardboard that still keeps the product suitably fresh.

Consider the packaging that your dog’s food comes in too.  If it is tinned food, have the tins been recycled, are you recycling them after they are done? 

And don’t forget, overfeeding your pet is not good for their health and it also contributes to using an excess amount of unnecessary food resources.  There is a serious obesity problem with the US dog population.  Take sensible steps to keep your dog at a healthy weight and you will be helping them and also the environment, even if only in a small way.

Dog Beds

There are a wide range of dog beds available now that are made using organic and fair trade fabrics.  Some have recycled fillings, some use non-chemical based dyes in their fabrics, some will even recycle the bed when your dog needs a replacement!  Don’t forget that your dog’s comfort has to be a priority too. Before purchasing a shiny new, eco-friendly dog bed think about the style of bed that works for your dog and that they are likely to be comfortable in.

Here are a couple of our favourite ethical dog beds.

West Paw Designs Dog Beds

West Paw Designs are a super ethical company and they have great products too.  Their beds are filled with ‘Intelliloft’, a material made from recycled plastic bottles. They are manufactured in the USA and the outers are often made with organic fabrics and sometimes also with a combination of Intelliloft.  Their Montana Nap is an easy-to-transport, easy-to-wash and comfortable bed that works well in crates too.

Big Shrimpy Nest Beds

These beds from Big Shrimpy are environmentally friendly and designed to last.  Their fillings are made from recycled plastics and they come with a three-year guarantee and the bed can also be returned at the ends of its lifecycle so that they can recycle the materials again.  These are big and comfy nest beds and they come in a variety of sizes.

If your dog’s bed has gone a bit flat, rather than buying a new inner, why not stuff the old outer with old towels or bedding that you have around the house.  Your dog gets a nice new comfy bed without you having to buy more materials.

Dog Collars, Leashes and Harnesses

There are a surprising number of ethical products out there for walking with your dog.  Some are made from hemp, some with recycled plastics, some with sustainable and cruelty-free leather alternatives.  Don’t forget that, along with the ethical side of things, it is important to look for a collar, leash and harness that is well fitting, comfortable and fit for purpose.

Here are just a couple of our favourites.

Dutch Dog Collars and Leashes

We really like the vibrant designs of the Dutch Dog range of collars and leashes, plus they are made from non-toxic and recycled pet webbing.  They are super soft but also durable and they are very well reviewed by purchasers.

Planet Dog Collars, Leashes and Harnesses

We love Planet Dog products and it is great to see that they have an ethical collar, leash and harness option made from hemp.  They are 100% biodegradable too.  Their harnesses have a fleece lining which is great for those dogs with a fine coat that may get chaffing from other harnesses.

Dog Toys

You can’t go wrong with the Planet Dog or West Paw Designs range of dog toys.  Not only are they ethical companies with environmentally friendly products, but the toys are also very durable, well designed and often great interactive options for keeping your dog entertained.

The popular Orbee-Tuff range of toys from Planet Dog is one of the most highly regarded environmentally friendly dog products on the market.  Made from non-toxic and recyclable material in the USA they are super tough and bouncy, have a texture dogs love and even smell good too.

The West Paw Design Tux and Hurley are favourites too.  Again super durable, these are often recommended for power chewers.  They are also made from recyclable material too. They also invite their customers to send back old toys so that they can be recycled rather than them just going into the trash.

Or why not have a go at making your own.  You could tie up some old socks or dish towels to play tug, you could even soak and then freeze them and this can make a great supervised chew for teething puppies.  Or for some interactive games why not use some old boxes or toilet roll holders to hide some treats inside.

If your dog likes soft toys, why not head to your local charity shop and buy second hand.  Just make sure that the toys do not have dangerous fillings (like beads) or button eyes that could be removed and swallowed.

Dog Poop Bags

There are now plenty of biodegradable dog poop bags out on the market now.  They are a much better and more obvious choice than a non-environmentally-friendly option.  If you really want to be super respectful of the environment though it is better to go even further with your dog poop disposal plans.

By selecting compostable poop bags the bag will break down in a composting bin or just break down much more successfully if put in with the normal waste.  Biodegradable bags will take a really long time to break down when they are tucked up within a tip. They need oxygen and light to break down quickly and they won’t have this where they normally end up.

If you are purchasing compostable bags make sure they are stored in a cool, dry place and that you don’t buy more than you will need in a year as they can start to degrade if left for too long.

You could also consider composting your dog’s poop if you have the space for a set up in your own garden.  It should never be put in the communal composting. The USDA has provided some useful guidance on how to safely and effectively set up a composting system for dog waste.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that putting your dog’s poop down the toilet is a good environmentally friendly option either.  Many waste treatment facilities are not geared up to deal with handling any diseases or parasites that your dog’s waste may be carrying.  If this is something that you want to investigate you should always check with your local water treatment provider first.

Consider using compostable rather than biodegradable poop bags as they will break down more effectively 

Flea and Tick Treatments

Whilst a lot of the chemical products on the market are proven as being effective at preventing your dog having lots of fleas and ticks, a lot of people are now turning to more natural alternatives.  Not only can these be less harsh and sometimes safer for your dog, but they are also often better for the environment.

For more information on the choices of treatment that you have, check out our in-depth article about preventing Fleas here.

Grooming Products

Do you use vegan-friendly, non-animal tested cosmetics and bath products for yourself.  What about your dog? Some people don’t think so much about the doggy products they are buying.  There are actually an increasing number of very good ethical brands for doggy healthy and hygiene products on the market now for you to consider.

The Pro Pet Works range of shampoos are fantastic.  A little goes a long way, they use organic and natural ingredients and do not test on animals.  Their bottles are all made with recycled materials and are biodegradable too.

There are also natural toothpaste alternatives too, like this option from Vet’s Best.

You can even buy dog brushes that are made from recyclable materials.  The wooDsom dog brush, for example, has a wooden body and the bristles are made from bamboo, rather than the usual plastic.

When giving your dog a bath don’t forget there are lots of environmentally friendly products out there that are safe, natural and effective 

Don’t Forget That Dog Adoption is Also a More Ethical Option

Okay, so this is nothing to do with the products you buy your dog, but it is always good to remember that by adopting a dog you are not only offering a forever home to a dog in need but you are also avoiding adding to the population explosion of our pets and the subsequent stretch on resources.  The more people and pets there are on the planet, the more that they will contribute to our environmental problems.

The overpopulation problem is also another compelling argument for having your dog neutered.

Don’t forget that if you no longer need an item of pet gear, rather than throwing it in the trash, why not take it down to your local rescue centre where it can be used again for dogs in need.  This is also true of any old towels, bedding, newspapers or shredded paper that you may have too.

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