some dog food is more sustainable than others

How Sustainable Is Dog Food?

Over the years, we’ve become more aware of practices which harm our environment. Single-use plastics, global warming, fossil fuels, and the like are receiving increasing media attention, and public awareness of sustainability is growing. With this in mind, we wanted to look at the concept of sustainable dog food, whether it exists and how to choose it wisely.

If you’ve been asking how you can better protect the earth that supports us and our pets, there are plenty of habits you can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint. Cycling or carpooling instead of driving, reducing meat consumption, and conserving water are just some of these.

But enough of the carbon footprint. Here’s how we can reduce the carbon pawprint of dog food.

Does sustainable dog food even exist?

Have you ever found yourself thinking about whether your pet food is sustainable? If you have, the good news is that pet food companies globally are thinking about it, too.

Nina Leigh Krueger, President of Nestlé Purina PetCare in the United States says that “making our pet food sustainably today is critical to ensuring people and pets share a healthy world tomorrow.”

The basics of sustainable dog food

According to The Conversation, commercial dog foods are generally 20% – 40% protein. As they also explain, meat-based diets have a much larger carbon footprint than plant-based diets. That goes for both humans and animals.

Why? Because it takes lots of resources like land, water and food to feed the cattle which fuel meat-based diets. So too, it requires a lot of resources to farm pigs, cows, sheep, poultry, and fish.

But obviously while many humans thrive on vegan and vegetarian diets, that’s harder for pets. Although if raw feeding is something that appeals to you, read our article on the pros and cons of raw food for puppies.

What can dog food companies do instead to create a more sustainable product?

black and white dog with food in white bowl

Other ways to make dog food sustainable

Research has shown pet food companies can reduce their carbon footprint through avenues other than going meat-free.

For instance, scientific suggestions include choosing more sustainable “product design, manufacturing processes, public education, and policy change.” Of course, this requires a strong coordinated effort from across the industry.

Even one lone company blazing a sustainable pet food trail helps reduce the industry’s environmental impact of – like Zealandia or Ziwi Pets for local, sustainable dog food made in New Zealand.

But a change across the entire supply chain could result in a much more sustainable pet food ecosystem. This would need to include input and commitment from nutritionists, ingredient buyers, packaging plants, manufacturers, retailers and, of course, consumers.

How to choose sustainable dog food

But if you as a buyer can’t change the pet food ecosystem, what can you do? We can start to make small changes which reduce our own carbon footprint, and educate our friends and family to do the same.

Here are a few ways you can check your dog food is up to scratch in terms of sustainability and nutritional goodness.

Buyer’s checklist

Is your dog food brand protecting the planet?

Yes, if it:

  • Treats water with respect. There’s a limited amount of drinkable water on earth, and many places don’t have enough of it. Responsible brands do their part to reduce overall consumption and reuse water wherever possible.

  • Creates less waste. In both the production and packaging phases. The best scenario is a dog food brand that produces zero waste. This means they reduce waste, or repurpose any excess materials and energy. Recyclable or reusable packaging is a great starting point.

  • Has a long-term vision. There is no quick fix for sustainability. Our natural resources are under increasing strain, and this will only get worse in future. Look for brands that have committed to reducing their ecological impact beyond 2050. This way, you can be sure that they’re committed to a brighter future.

  • Chooses eco-friendly suppliers. It’s great for a brand themselves to have products which are sustainable, but what about the partners and suppliers they work with? A brand with a long-term vision and intent to reach zero waste and treat natural resources with respect will also engage the services of third parties and suppliers who do the same. Look for brands who use suppliers that “preserve soil and promote clean water, biodiversity and other factors that create healthy ingredients and a healthy ecosystem” suggests Nina from Purina It’s a win-win for everybody – planet, pets, and people! 😊

    With the above in mind, now you can make informed dog food choices for the planet and your best friend.

Dog food CAN be sustainable

The more of these sustainable practices a company commits to, the better. For you, the decision is all about balancing nutritional needs and quality of product with the environmental impact. As a consumer, it’s good to know that supporting companies who prioritise sustainability as well as your pet’s health can change the world for the better.

And if you want to take your ethical buying a little further, why not check out our article on the HUHA ethical gift store. Or browse through our guide to ethical Christmas gifts for pets – because a little bit of spoiling is always in order. Not just at Christmas.

Only the best for your pup

If you’re a conscientious owner who wants only the best for your dog, pet insurance is a no-brainer. Because even with the world’s best owners taking care of them, dogs have a way of finding mischief.

So we think that if you’re going with sustainable food, a lovely plush bed, and snuggles every night then it only makes sense that you’d want the best medical care. Check out our dog insurance plans.

Over to you

Is sustainability a consideration for you when you’re buying dog (or pet) food? Or do you stick to a specific brand just because you know your dog loves it? Weigh in with your opinion on our Facebook page.

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