We hear all the time about how we can make small changes to our lifestyles that will have a positive impact on the environment.
We can choose to put that water bottle in the recycling bin and not the trash or walk down the street to see a friend instead of driving there.
But what about our canine pals? Do they have a part to play?
It might not be something you've ever considered, but it turns out that our dogs (and cats) have quite a hefty carbon pawprint.
They don't drive or rack up tons of air miles sure, but according to an article in the Ecologist, our cats and dogs create roughly 64 million tons of carbon dioxide and methane each year. Wowsers!
Fortunately, there are several ways we can proactively reduce the impact our pets have on the planet.
And for the eco-conscious shopper, there are more and more sustainably sourced, eco-friendly pet gear options appearing on the market all the time.
Let's take a look at a few ways we can become more ‘planet-friendly' while shopping and caring for our dogs.
Choosing a dog food can be tricky for a pet owner who wants to give their dog quality nutrition but also do their bit for the planet. Meat production takes a heavy toll on the environment, and dogs and cats consume a lot of meat every day.
The amount of meat eaten by US pets in one year equates to the amount of meat consumed annually by the entire population of France (nearly 67 million people!)
So what can we do to reduce the strain our pets put on the planet?
Red meat, especially beef, is off the charts in terms of its impact on the planet. Every year vast areas of forest are cleared around the world to create grazing for cattle.
All those cows produce massive amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that is even more damaging than carbon dioxide. Then there are the vast amounts of water and feedstuffs needed to sustain cattle destined to end up in your dog's dinner bowl.
If you would like to give your buddy a more planet-friendly diet that still satisfies his inner carnivore, opt for a formula with chicken or rabbit as the primary protein source.
Raising chickens and rabbits for meat has a much smaller environmental impact. They require a lot less space to farm and consume a lot fewer resources than larger farm animals.
If you want to take it one step further, then you could consider feeding your dog a vegetarian or even vegan pet food. Using only plant-based ingredients ensures that diets like V-Dog are much more environmentally friendly than meat-based foods.
If you do opt to feed your dog a vegan diet, make sure the formula meets the nutritional standards for dogs laid out by the AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials).
Getting the right balance of specific nutrients your dog needs from plants requires expert knowledge and should not be attempted in a home kitchen.
Don't forget, even if the main food you give your dog is meat-based, you can always buy meat-free treats to reduce his carbon pawprint. These delicious Wholesome sweet potato chews are made right here in the US and provide a host of health benefits too.
Whimzees Stix Dental Treats are another great all plant-based snack for dogs (and they do a great job of keeping your little bud's gnashers clean!)
It's not the most pleasant subject, but how you dispose of your dog's poop can have a significant impact on the environment.
Poop left on the ground will break down and seep into groundwater. This is not good as dog feces can contain pathogens (microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses that can cause diseases).
It's also not great if people end up treading in it or kids get their hands on it.
If you use bags to dispose of your dog's daily ‘presents', opt for compostable poop bags like these Frisco Planet Friendly Bags.
It'll help cut down on plastic going into landfills, and Frisco bags are also made from at least 50% recycled material.
There are better ways to get rid of the piles of poop, though. In many areas, the advice from local authorities is that your dog's poop is best flushed down your toilet.
If you can't face doing this, another option for poop disposal is the Doggie Dooley Pet Waste Disposal System, which you can dig into your backyard.
It acts like a mini septic tank and reduces poop down into liquid using special enzyme cultures and bacteria.
We all know that buying disposable plastic items is not great for the planet. Only a small percentage of plastic gets recycled, and the rest ends up in landfills or littering the land and ocean.
We've got good news, though. Plenty of dog products that were once made using plastic or other synthetic materials are now being made with natural materials that are sustainable and biodegradable.
Bamboo is an incredibly fast-growing crop that needs no fertilizer or pesticides.
Even after it's cut, the plant regrows rapidly from the roots, and it's tough to keep bamboo from spreading (as many gardeners know all too well!)
Bamboo has been used by humans throughout history for all sorts of purposes – from paper to kitchen utensils to furniture to instruments. You can even build a home from bamboo!
These days it can also be made into cool sustainable products for your dog.
Check out this smart looking metal pin grooming brush from Greenbone. Just the thing for pampering sessions with your dog and to get his coat free from tangles.
We also found this gorgeous bamboo dog toothbrush from Petique. It's biodegradable and sustainable, and even the print on the brush is natural soy ink.
Another tremendous sustainable material is hemp, a relative of marijuana, but much less psychoactive.
Hemp plants reach maturity at an incredible rate and crowd out anything else that dares to grow near them. No herbicides or pesticides are necessary for a bumper crop.
Once harvested, hemp fiber can be woven into a fabric similar to linen, and this material makes an excellent basis for tough, natural dog toys.
We love the Petique range of Eco Pet toys, like this cute little koala squeaker with a hemp rope for games of tug.
Cotton rope toys are another awesome sustainable dog product. As it's 100% natural, cotton products will naturally break down once your dog decides he doesn't want to play with them anymore.
Take a look at Jax and Bones range of pure cotton rope toys, with the bright colors created using natural vegetable dyes.
Just like our household cleaning and bathroom care products, dog products can also be full of nasty chemicals that end up in our waterways and pollute the local environment.
Luckily there are plenty of ecologically sound alternatives to choose from.
For a natural way to remove pet stains and odors, try ECOS for Pets! Stain and odor remover.
Their non-toxic enzyme formulas are entirely plant-based yet strong enough to deal with anything that comes out of either end of your dog.
All ECO bath products contain zero parabens, sulfates, harmful colors, or fragrances.
For a quick touch up of your dog's coat between baths, check out Pogi's Deodorising pet wipes. The wipes are made from sustainable bamboo, which means they'll break down much faster than regular wipes.
Turning something old into something new is one of the best ways to help stop our planet from becoming one giant trash can.
Here are a few of our favorite pet ranges that are made from recycled materials that would otherwise be clogging up a landfill.
Your dog will be super cozy in the well-padded nest bed from Ethical Pet that resists lumps. (And you'll sleep soundly knowing this bed's filling is made from 100% recycled polyfill!)
If your dog prefers to stretch out rather than curl up while sleeping, get him this awesome squishy Eco Slimline mattress bed from Scruffs.
It's made from 100% recycled fabric that once used to be plastic bottles!
But rest assured, it's much comfier than lying on bottles. The final fabric offers excellent cushioning, resilience, and insulation.
The Hurtta weekend warrior eco dog harness is all kinds of stylish in rosehip red or the soft green ‘hedge' color. Even cooler is the fact that the surface material of these harnesses is made from 100% recycled polyester. Hi-paw!
And now something for the lovers of stylish home decor.
Want to freshen up your pet's den or give him a beautiful, safe space of his own? New Age Pet ecoFLEX furniture products are all made from recycled wood.
We particularly love the ecoFLEX combined dog crate and end table piece. It comes in four sizes and colors available include russet, espresso, antique white, or gray.