Day 20: Dogs

We share our home with two rescued mutts. I wouldn’t trade my dogs for anything, but I also recognize that their lifestyle is not very good for the environment. They eat meat, their food and treats come in non-recyclable bags, they destroy toys (and sometimes things that aren’t toys), and then there’s the poop problem.

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Couch hogs and trash creators.

Food

One of my dogs has some food sensitivities, so changing diets is tricky. I hadn’t pursued a vegetarian diet for my dogs so far because the information I have seen from vets in the U.S. is very mixed. But, I just learned that well-balanced vegetarian dog food has been commercially available in the UK since 1980. I feel a bit more comfortable about working with my vet to make the switch, even though there aren’t as many vegetarian dog foods available here. That won’t help the trash issue, but reducing meat consumption is one of the best things you can do for the environment.

For treats, I can always make my own with ingredients from bulk bins. When I’m not making my own condiments and whatnot.

Toys

My dogs are notorious toy destroyers, so I already have this one pretty well on lock. They get Chuck It orange balls, Zogoflex brand toys, and elk antlers, which are naturally shed. They are plenty spoiled in other ways, so I don’t feel bad about not buying them stuffed animals that they will destroy in 2 minutes – that’s just money down the drain and waste in the landfill.

Poop

Everyone poops, even (especially) dogs. But you can’t compost dog waste for your garden, it’s bad for the watershed to leave it in place (especially if you live next to a river, as I do), and even the supposedly biodegradable dog waste bags may not be as environmentally friendly as they claim to be.

Some better options, recommended by Rover.com, are:

  • Make a dog poop-only compost bin. This is more for safely breaking down waste, not for making garden fertilizer, although you can use it for decorative gardens (assuming they’re not upstream from a food source). If your dogs use your yard for their toilet, this option allows you to forgo bags altogether.
  • Use  water-soluble flushable waste bags. This one seems like it could be a little hard on the plumbing, but I intend to look into it more. The last thing I want is a plumber call because my pipes are jammed up with dog poop bags.
  • Hire a service that will compost the waste. Of course this is a service that exists in Portland.

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