Since the public became aware of single-use plastic poisoning soils and choking waterways, wildlife, riverine and marine animals, many have started asking how they can better protect the earth that supports us and our pets.
From the way you drive to the food you eat, there are literally thousands of things you can do to reduce your negative impact on the environment.
Maybe you are cycling to work on Fridays to reduce your use of fossil fuels. Or trying Meat Free Mondays to reduce your global ecological footprint. Maybe you’ve wondered about pet food, which has a carbon “paw” print of its own.
Let’s unpack that. Commercial dog foods are generally 20% – 40% protein, The Conversation explains, and cat food 30% – 60%. “Meat-based diets for humans and animals alike,” they continue, “have much larger ecological footprints than plant-based diets, because it takes lots of land, water and food to feed pigs, cows, sheep, poultry and farmed fish.”
The good news is that pet food companies across the planet are thinking about it, too.
They understand that “making our pet food sustainably today is critical to ensuring people and pets share a healthy world tomorrow.” That’s Nina Leigh Krueger, President of Nestlé Purina PetCare in the United States.
Swanson, Carter et al point out in a paper on the Nutritional Sustainability of Pet Foods (12) that pet food brands can do this by lowering the negative impact of “product design, manufacturing processes, public education, and policy change. A coordinated effort across the industry that includes ingredient buyers, formulators, and nutritionists may result in a more sustainable pet food system.”
Sound like a mouthful? Here are a few ways you can check if the pet food brand you’re using makes the grade on sustainability as well as nutritional goodness for your pet.
Checklist: is your pet food brand protecting the future? Yes, if it:
The more of these sustainable practices a company commits to, the better for you, your pet, and the future. Armed with these insights, you can explore your favourite pet food brands with a new lens and make more informed purchase choices for your pets and our planet. It’s all about balancing nutritional needs, quality and impact and, as a consumer, it’s cool to know that supporting companies who prioritise climate progress alongside your pet’s well-being can change the world for the better.
Curious about dog food that treats certain conditions? Us too. Check out this article on medicine in a meal. If you’ve got an older dog, s/he might need a change in diet, not less food. Tap here for our blog about optimal diets for senior dogs.
 Swanson, Kelly & Carter, Rebecca & P Yount, Tracy & Aretz, Jan & Buff, Preston. (2013). Nutritional Sustainability of Pet Foods12. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.). 4. 141-150. 10.3945/an.112.003335.
Dr. van Dalsen is our Vet of the Month
The new dog law that could cost you R20,000
Dog lovers: Keen to adopt a Labradoodle?
5 Ways to keep your pet happy during renovations
How you can support Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month...
Meet our April Vet of the Month