Are Cats and Dogs Bad for the Environment? (Answers You Should Know)

People are more concerned than ever about how we negatively affect the environment. To lessen our environmental impact, we have already made significant lifestyle changes by buying electric cars or eating more plant-based foods.

It is not just people that have a carbon footprint. Another vital family member living in our homes to consider is our cats and dogs.

Cats and dogs are the most popular pets worldwide. Estimates suggest that in the Western world, around 70% of households own at least one pet, and this figure is rising year after year.

The US has around 78 million pet dogs and 85 million pet cats. If you think about this number worldwide, it is clear that they must have a significant impact on the planet.

How do cats and dogs impact the environment?

One of the biggest reasons cats and dogs are bad for the environment is their diet. This considerable number of animals needs a lot of food.

Cats and dogs are carnivores, which means their food contains animal products. Meat and fish production hurts the environment.

It is estimated that cat and dog food totals 30% of emissions for all meat consumption in the US alone. This massive proportion of meat eaten just by our pets alone brings into question the impact this has on global emissions.

How is meat production terrible for the environment?

Over 1/3 of global emissions are due to food production. These gases speeplanet’s planet’s warming by trapping heat in the atmosphere. This results in climatic changes, rising sea levels, and catastrophic weather events.

Animals like cattle, pigs, and sheep, as well as the food they eat, account for 57% of all food production emissions. Producing this meat leads to deforestation, biodiversity loss, and forest fires, all damaging the environment. The world’s goal is to keep global warming below 1.5 Celsius. However, this goal is slipping away, as the UN states we are closer to seeing a global rise in temperatures of 2 -2.9 Celsius. Food production is a significant driver of this temperature increase, and our pets are taking a considerable share.

What can we do to make the food we feed our pets eco-friendlier?

The number of pets is unlikely to decrease, but we can do things to lessen their environmental impact. This should be with sustainable solutions that are easy to implement and will work for many people.

1. Choose dry food over wet food

Wet food production produces 690% more greenhouse gas emissions than dry food. This because food’s water content is lower food’s food’s, meaning it has more nutrients per gram. This means emissions are reduced for pet production, transport, and waste. A simple and cost-effective solution that could make a significant difference for the planet.

2. Try insect-based pet food

Insects could answer the problems faced by meat production and the environment. Bugs are high in complete proteins, easy to digest, and full of essential vitamins and minerals. The smaller size of insects makes them easier to transport in large quantities.

Beef production leads to 12.5 times more greenhouse gas emissions than insects. Farming insects leads to less soil pollution, 3.75 times less water usage, and ten times less land needed than meat, poultry, and fish farming.

Many brands, like Yora Pet Food and Green Pet Food, sell insect-based dog and cat food. This lespets’our pets’ environmental impact and provides a hypoallergenic alternative to regular pet food.

3. The future of lab-grown meat

Slaughter-free meat, or meat grown in a lab by scientists, could be another future solution to the world’s meat problem. The cultured meat grown by the Californian company Upside Foods was recently approved for human consumption by the FDA. The company grows animal cells, which produce real meat. It likens this process to the yeast and microbes grown when brewing beer.

The large-scale introduction of lab-grown meat would be positive news for people and pets alike. This would cut emissions, reduce water usage, and lessen the land needed for farming.

4. Switch to plant-based pet food

A plant-based diet is rising due to how this reduces our negative environmental impact. If everyone ate a plant-based diet, we’d need 75% less farmland than we use today. That is an area in size similar to the US, China, Europe, and Australia combined.

This dietary solution can also shape our pets’ diets. Many vegan pet food brands, like Wild Earth, provide high-quality, well-rounded food for cats and dogs.

5. Think about your choice of pet

We could make an informed and conscious choice about the pets in our homes. Smaller pets such as hamsters, rabbits, and guinea pigs are herbivores, so they do not eat meat.

This lessens their environmental impact as they already eat a plant-based diet and create less waste. If you own a dog, you could throw away 700 plastic bags a year by simply cleaning up their business.

Final Thoughts on Are Cats and Dogs Bad for the Environment

The meat in many pet foods would have been destined for the landfill, where it creates harmful emissions. Meat offcuts, such as offal, fat, and bones, are sometimes unsuitable for human consumption but fine for pets.

If humans continue to eat meat, at least our pets are eating food that is already going to waste.

However, we have fed our pets better-quality meat, which is good news for them but bad for the planet. Over 26 million people could benefit if we repurposed just 25% of the meat given to cats and dogs in the US.

The solutions listed above are positive steps we can make now to lepers our pets impact the world.

Our pets must be considered for humanity’s environmental impact. We can make changes to their diet and our own to help protect the planet.

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