ZERO WASTE DOG // sustainable pet owner tips

Choosing a pet:

  • Rescue over breeder, choosing a rescue dog is more sustainable, and ethical, than choosing a dog from a breeder (also rescue over breeder, anytime).
  • The thing about the race, there are many different types of dogs, and some are better fitted for life than others. Some dog has been bred to the extent where it is painful for them to be alive, so when choosing a dog, it is a good idea to avoid supporting that industry
  • Choose a pet that is a good match, and don’t get a pet if you cannot commit to it.
  • Pets are not gifts, don’t surprise someone with a pet, but let it be a well-discussed and well-throughout decision. This goes for cats and dogs, as well as rabbits, hamsters, fish, etc. Commit to giving them the best life possible, or don’t get one.

Now a little bit of a disclaimer/backstory for my dog:

First of all, she is actually not my dog at all. When Jens and I started dating, he already had Molly, so I was not present during the acquiring of the dog, the discussion of getting her, or any of the above-mentioned important steps prior to getting a pet. As bonus info, I have previously had a cat and a tortoise.

Toys and accessories:

  • non-plastic toys, fabric, rope, and natural rubber
  • anything that can be reused many times, and preferably something that can be composted/recycled
  • avoid: toys that contain plastic bits, or consists of polyester/other synthetic fabrics which can release microplastic
  • you can find a lot of the stuff you need for your dog preloved, both toys and care products
  • Leaches and food and water bowls can be bought second hand, with the food and water bowls we just use normal thrifted bowls, and we even tried to find some that were a little bit fancy for her. They just have to be wide and not too deep.

Here are some other sustainable options:

Poop bags:

  • For poop bags there is not a way to avoid a single-use product altogether, but there are options that are more sustainable than others. We use bio-plastic bags from Maistic to pick up poops
  • Generally you should look for bags that are labeled “compostable” rather than “biodegradable” because biodegradable bags can vary between decomposition times of 2 to 20 years, whereas “compostable” often meet higher standards and are more strictly regulated.
  • You can also bring a shovel or some toilet paper and flush the poop out once you get home. This is not recommend with cat poop, because most water filtration facilities cannot filter cat poop, but with dog poop it shouldn’t be a problem.

Here are some other green options:

Dog food:

  • Bulk dog food is something that I have seen very little off, in most cases I think it would be just as sustainable to buy the big bag of dog food that the store probably pours into a bulk dispenser anyway. The bigger the bag, the less waste.
  • You can get different types of dog food in recyclable packaging, which is what we are going for. Especially dog food wrapped in cardboard and paper is preferred here, because the recycling rate of paper and cardboard is generally higher than plastic.
  • I don’t DIY Molly’s food. I have seen plenty of recipes for homemade dog treats, but I would rather leave it up to the pros. Dogs don’t benefit from the same foods a people, and some foods are even harmful to them like. Some dogs are sensitive to wheat. Beans should not make up more than 10% of a dogs diet. Some dogs are allergic to soy.

Here is a list of other foods that are harmful to dogs:

  • Onions, garlic and chives
  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Avocado
  • Artificial sweetener (Xylitol)
  • Cooked bones
  • Grapes and raisins

Dog treats:

  • Many pet shops offer treats and snacks in bulk, bring your own bag and avoid the extra waste. You don’t need as many snack as you need the actual food, so here it would make more sense to make use of a bulk section.
  • Otherwise I also look for recyclable packing
  • There are also quite a few dog-friendly snack foods that you perhaps already have laying around. Banana, carrot, sweet potato, banana, ice cubes (molly gets one on hot days to help her cool down and she loves them) broccoli and blueberries are all perfectly safe to give to your dog as a treat. Whenever I have bought peas from the farmers market Molly also get s a couple, it is one of her favourite snacks.

Is Molly vegan?

I think this is the question that has popped up the most, because I am vegan, and Jens follows a 95% plant-based diet, and 5% vegetarian diet. So it makes sense to ask the question. The short answer: no, Molly is not vegan.

I am not comfortable feeding my dog a vegan diet, I don’t know enough about the different options to make sure that she is actually getting what she needs. I know some vegan brands are quite good, while others are terrible, and as I am not qualified to thoroughly tell them apart, I choose to priorities my dog’s health over my ethical stances. If that is something you never could, I think an animal like a rabbit or another herbivore might be a better fit. I know I feel perfect and healthy on a vegan diet, but I would not know what signs to look for that Molly isn’t and she cannot tell me.

(sidenote: it is generally seen as safer for dogs to have vegan or vegetarian food, for cats it is an absolute no-go, but technically dogs can thrive on vegan food, technically. Dogs can develop health problems (including heart problems) on diets that are heavy on potatoes, lentils, peas and chickpeas, so those foods should really not be the base on their diet, however these are actually often found in grain-free dog food, as well as some vegan versions, sorry long sidenote)

However, there are some things we can do to lower the carbon footprint of the dog food we are buying, like avoiding high-impact meats like beef. Instead you can opt for dog food based on chicken and crickets. Another option is making sure that the dog food you are getting does not create demand for more meat products, some brands of dog food use leftovers from the production of meat products for humans, meat that would otherwise have been wasted, and that is also a good option in terms of sustainability.


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