How to raise your pet in a more sustainable way

December 23, 2023 - 2 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
Dog with paw on earth colored ball

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 to find the ethical path through pet ownership, so we've guided you through the most earth-friendly options.

Consider adopting a shelter pet

Rescuing a pet from a reputable shelter is a great way to give an existing pet a new home instead of encouraging overbreeding.

And there are plenty of them out there. According to the ASPCA, 6.3 million companion animals (about 3.1 million dogs and 3.2 million cats) enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year.

Here's how they put it:

Because there are homeless animals awaiting adoption in almost every community in the nation, the ASPCA firmly believes that when people decide to bring a pet into their homes, they should first consider adoption from a shelter or rescue group. Those who choose to purchase a pet should visit a responsible breeder.

When people decide to bring a pet into their homes, they should first consider adoption from a shelter or rescue group.

If you really do have your heart set on buying a puppy or kitten, read our advice first on how to source one from a reputable breeder.

Ask your breeder to see a puppy contract, preferably one that fits AKC guidelines. At minimum, that means it should include:

  • the puppy’s AKC registration number

  • the puppy’s microchip ID number

  • names and registration numbers of the sire and dam

  • purchase price

Always see the puppy or kitten with its mother, litter, and in the location where it was born, and never buy a puppy or kitten younger than eight weeks old.

Seek out sustainable pet products

Eco-friendly Bamboo Dog Bowls Free The Ocean

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 pet 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 some products you can buy in eco-friendly versions:

  • Pet bowls

  • Pet accessories (leashes, collars, etc.)

  • Poop bags

  • Toys

  • Pet beds

  • Pet insurance: consider seeking out a company that has some sort of green pledge or sustainability targets.

Opt for eco-friendly pet travel

A Bengal cat on a leash walks next to a woman on the sidewalk. Walking with a domestic cat outdoors.

Limiting travel is essential to keeping 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-and-cat-friendly staycations.

These are other ways that you can help reduce your impact on the environment:

  • Enjoy local walks. Dogs can be great at encouraging you to explore your local surroundings. (Cats, too!) Think twice about taking car trips to exercise your dog, and look for local spots to unwind and give your pet some exercise. It'll benefit you, too.

  • Eco travel: Flying is one of the most polluting forms of travel, and honestly, traveling is difficult with a pet anyway. Consider taking the train, car, or ferry and exploring new locations closer to home.

  • Respect nature: When you're out walking with your pet, make sure they're under control. Dogs, in particular, can scare wildlife when off the lead. Remember, leave nothing but footprints!

Discover sustainable pet foods and treats

Food is a massive factor in our pets carbon footprints, as unlike humans, it’s their main form of consumption. Some small, eco-friendly 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.

  • Sustainable ingredients: Consider meat-free options, like crickets (yes, they exist).

  • 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 for 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. Keep an eye on your pet's weight to make sure they're fit and healthy.


David Teich
Lead Editor

David oversees content strategy and development at ManyPets. As Lead Editor, he focuses on delivering accurate information related to pet care and insurance. David’s editorial background spans more than a decade, including a pivotal role at Digiday, where he wrote content and managed relationships with media and tech companies. As an Associate Editor at Cynopsis Media, David wrote the Cynopsis Digital newsletter and interviewed executives and digital marketing experts in the TV industry. His background also includes film journalism. His diverse experiences in journalism and marketing underpins his role in shaping content within the pet care industry.