How to Green Your Pet

by Staff, Utne Reader
March-April 2010
Add to My MSN

image from, Photo-illustration by Stephanie Glaros

Content Tools

Your dog or cat may be adorable, but pet ownership can have a sizable ecological paw print. Pet foods are often filled with industrial meat products that would horrify environmentalists. An article in New Scientist (Oct. 24, 2009) about the new book Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living estimates that it takes two acres of land to create the chicken and grain that a medium-sized dog eats each year. According to the book’s authors, Brenda and Robert Vale, that’s twice as resource-intensive as building and fueling an SUV driven 6,200 miles per year. A cat’s impact is just a whisker less than a compact car’s.

There are some simple ways to make sure your pet treads a little lighter on the earth. Re-evaluating how much meat your pet really needs is a good first step, as is thinking about the source; a cat that eats fish scraps, for instance, doesn’t have the footprint of one that dines on canned kitty pâté. In an adjacent editorial, New Scientist editors also suggest that owners give pets their leftovers, which would reduce waste from humans. (We suggest checking with a veterinarian to determine which foods are appropriate.) Consumers could pressure pet food manufacturers, as well, to offer more ecofriendly products. “Sustainable lifestyles require sacrifices,” write the New Scientist editors, “and even cats and dogs can be made to do their bit.”

Pay Now Save $5!

Print and DigitalWant to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!

(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here