We love our pets and want to do the best for them. But have you thought about the bigger picture and protecting the planet for them and us?
It can be bewildering finding the ethical path through pet ownership – so we've guided you through the most earth-friendly options.
Start from the beginning
It might sound obvious but first things first: source your new pet from a responsible seller.
Rescuing a pet from a reputable shelter is one way to do this. It also gives an existing pet a new home instead of encouraging overbreeding.
In 2019 the RSPCA alone took 10,564 dogs and 29,432 cats into their shelters. There's always a pet in need of a good home.
As well as the RSPCA, these other national organisations have pets in need of homes:
You can also get in touch with smaller animal rescues operating in your local area.
If you really do have your heart set on buying a puppy or kitten, read our advice first on how to buy a puppy safely and responsibly. You can also use the puppy contract or the RSPCA's kitten checklist to get an idea of what to look for. Always see the puppy or kitten with its mother, litter and in the location it was born and never buy a puppy or kitten younger than eight weeks old.
Use sustainable products
Over your pet’s lifetime it's likely you'll spend a good chunk of money on a variety of products to keep them comfortable, happy and well fed. The good news is that more and more sustainable products are hitting the shelves.
As with all products, try to buy a quality item that's designed to last, and is also made from recycled or sustainable materials.
Here are a few suggestions:
Pet bowls – Beco has a range of plastic free pet bowls and sporks made from Bamboo.
Pet accessories – Project Blu make a wide range of eco-friendly dog beds, collars & leads that are made from recycled ocean-bound plastic and leather.
Natural grooming products – For All Dogkind has a range of natural grooming products that are certified PETA cruelty free and vegan friendly
Natural flea and tick treatments – Greens Wellness Centre is a hub of natural products and healthy lifestyle options for cats & dogs
Pet insurance – Although not a physical product, not all insurance companies are equal. Make sure you look for a company that has some sort of green pledge or sustainability targets.
Limiting travel is essential to keep your carbon footprint small. Having a pet can definitely help with this, as for some of us it means less travelling around the world and more dog-friendly staycations.
These are other ways that you can help reduce your impact on the environment:
Enjoy local walks – Dog’s can be great at encouraging you to explore your local surroundings. Think twice about taking car journeys to exercise your dog. An Ordnance Survey map of your local area can really help with finding tracks and trails where you can walk locally. Alternatively Walk Britain has a handy tool for finding new walks in the UK.
Eco Travel – Flying is one of the most polluting forms of travel, so in some ways it’s quite good that travelling by air is difficult with a pet. Consider taking the train, car or ferry and explore new locations closer to home.
Respect Nature – When you're out walking with your pet, make sure they're under control. Dog’s especially can scare wildlife when off the lead. Remember, leave nothing but footprints.
Eco friendly foods
Food is a massive factor in our pets carbon footprints, as unlike humans, it’s their main form of consumption. Some small changes to their diet can make a big difference.
Try some of these eco switches:
Recyclable packaging – Make sure your pet food comes in packaging that can be recycled, or even better composted. Scrumbles make pet food for both cats and dogs which comes in recyclable packaging and their pet treats even come in compostable packaging.
Sustainable ingredients – Consider meat-free options. Blue Pet Co. make nutritious pet treats from locally-sourced kelp which is not only sustainable but also a healthy alternative to meaty treats.
Bulk buy – Buying pet food in bulk can help save on packaging compared with buying small portions in individual packets. This has a knock on effect because, as well as reducing the packaging that needs to be made or recycled it also reduces the carbon footprint while in transit. As a lot of pet food is produced in other parts of the world, cutting down on the weight of packaging can cumulatively cut down on fuel consumption and other associated problems with international freight.
Don’t overfeed – Overfeeding is not only bad for the planet, but also bad for your pet. If you can, keep an eye on your pet's weight to make sure they're fit and healthy.