If you’re one of the millions of Americans who welcomed a new dog into the family in 2020, you may be adjusting to a brand new lifestyle. Congratulations!

No doubt you thought long and hard about the impacts of having a dog on your life and your family. Now, it’s time to think hard about the eco-friendliness of dog ownership. 

Why? During the pandemic, carbon emissions dropped a whopping 7% — that’s 2.4 billion tons — as compared to 2019. Prioritizing climate health could help us build off this reduction for a better future. 

Examining every aspect of our lives can help us reduce our carbon footprints. And it turns out that dog ownership is a key part of the assessment. It has been estimated that a medium sized dog adds 2x the carbon footprint as an average sized SUV. Wow!

Overall, our pets are responsible for as much annual greenhouse gas emissions as 13 million cars! So, if you’re thinking about getting your life with a dog off to a great start, one thing to think about is how green you and your pup can be. Here are 5 top tips to consider on your way to eco-friendly dog ownership.

Eco-friendly Pet Waste Disposal (AKA Poop Practices)

First off, dog waste is a problem. We’ve got 83 million pets in this country and they produce something like 10.6 million tons of poop every year. Where’s it all going to go, and how can you help make your dog’s contribution as eco-friendly as possible?

The number one thing you need to do is commit to scooping your dog’s poop. And that means whenever it emerges, and wherever it lands. Even if it’s in your own backyard.

The reason is that dog poop contains harmful pathogens like e coli, giardia, salmonella and other bacteria, parasites, and viruses. All of these harmful elements end up on plants we eat, as well as in our water and air. It’s not just trace amounts, either. Up to 30% of the bacteria in water samples can be traced back to dog wastes.

So commit to eco-friendly pet waste disposal by using compostable bags to scoop dog waste, then throw it in the trash. To be even greener, compost it! True, you cannot use dog-waste compost on vegetable, fruit, or other edible plants. But your landscaping will love you for it!

Green Grooming Practices

Next, be sure that the way you care for your pet’s health and coat is eco-friendly. Remember, anything you put on your dog’s fur or skin is likely to be licked off, absorbed into skin, or ultimately washed down the drain.

Take care to choose products that are non-toxic and biodegradable. For bathing your dog, choose an eco-friendly dog shampoo that is plant-based and sustainably sourced, like those from Green Paw Essentials

As with any product, read the fine print to confirm that the claims on the bottle are born out by the ingredients. You want to see ingredient lists free of added colors, preservatives, or chemical fragrances that your dog doesn’t need anyway.

Eco-friendly dog baths are also important in cutting down on dangerous chemicals used for flea and tick prevention. Get serious about bathing and grooming your dog regularly and you’ll prevent flea and tick infestations. 

Rather than rely on topical treatments that can leave toxic residues on your dog’s fur and around your home, ask your veterinarian about oral flea-prevention. Then comb with a fine-toothed comb to remove stray fleas, wash bedding in hot water, wipe down surfaces, and vacuum to keep pests away.

Green Feeding Practices

Skip the plastic bowls that crack and warp and end up in the landfill. Instead, invest in a more eco-friendly dog bowl made of stainless steel or ceramic bowl that is easy to sanitize in the dishwasher, doesn’t leach BPAs into the environment, and will last forever. 

Next, choose a meat-forward, whole foods diet for your pet that will keep them healthy and lean with less carbon from trucking, processing, and fewer chemicals used in production. Choosing a whole foods dog food like A Pup Above means not only taking care of your dog’s health — it means supporting a healthier food chain. Not only is the food fresher, you're supporting farmers and ranchers who use sustainable practices.

Think greener with treats by buying in bulk to reduce trips to the store and cut down on all that packaging. Or, you can skip that extra box or bag of treats by making or baking rather than buying. Homemade dog treats can be healthier for your dog, too.

Eco-friendly Pet Gear

When it comes to doggy gear, don’t forget to reduce, reuse, and recycle. A collar or leash that didn’t work out for a friend may be perfect for your new pup. Check in with your fellow dog-loving communities to see what may be on offer before you head to the pet store for anything. 

It can be fun to buy your dog a new toy now and then, but when you do, choose eco-friendly dog toys made of biodegradable or recycled materials. It can be even more fun to make your own dog toys

Remember, just like people, dogs can get tired of the same old thing. If your dog seems uninterested in the bounty of toys you’ve provided, it doesn’t mean you need to run to the store. Instead, work a little strategy. Give the toys a wash and put them away all the toys for a bit, then bring out one or two at key playtimes — they’ll seem brand new! 

When you need to make a change in doggy equipment, be sure to pass it along to a friend or donate rather than sending it to the landfill. Animal shelters can make great use of towels, blankets, beds, pillows, and toys. They even welcome old leashes, collars, grooming items, and gently used food and water dishes.

Bonus: Green Community Practices

Remember, your dog needs at least 30 minutes of activity each day to stay physically and mentally healthy. If you’ve committed to going on at least one daily walk with your doggo, then consider going one step further.

Dog owners are often blamed for yard messes in the neighborhood, but the truth is that regular dog walkers help the safety and vitality of neighborhoods just by being part of the community. And if you bring extra bags, you can even help keep your neighborhood clean. 

Consider bringing a designated garbage bag along with you on your walks. If you spot trash, you can easily pick it up for proper disposal or recycling. Let friends know about your commitment, and spread the habit. 

Tidying up our public spaces feels good and makes our communities better for both us and our pups. So get out there, enjoy the great outdoors, and don’t be afraid to get a little dirty (you can always use gloves)!

Sweet Eco-friendly Dog Love

Congratulations on your budding relationship with that special canine companion. We hope you’ll come up with epic ways to be eco-friendly with your pets, this year and beyond. As you come up with new ways to live green with pup, please share your ideas with us!