What’s your pet’s carbon pawprint?

  • 12 January 2022
  • 6 replies

Userlevel 4

If you’re a fan of the Community’s Pets Corner, you’ll be familiar with my bundle of fun Bobby, the almost five month old Boston Terrier. I had lots of considerations, questions and concerns when I decided to welcome a four-legged friend into my life, but I can’t say that the impact they might have on the environment was one of them.

Bobby at 12 weeks

But that changed just this weekend, when I dropped by my local pet shop to ask about Bobby’s food. Bobby hadn’t been doing too well on the kibble and wet food I’d bought him, and I was keen to try out a new food that might suit a pup with a more sensitive tummy. The lady suggested I might like to try a new hypoallergenic brand they’d recently introduced to their range. A brand that just so happens to replace the traditional meat-based protein you’d find in the standard dog food with… insects :bug::ant: 

I’ll admit it, I wasn’t sure at first. But after checking how this food weighed up nutritionally against other dog foods on the market, I decided to give it a try. The grubs, which make up 44% of the puppy kibble I chose, are just as nutritious as good quality free range chicken, and they’re more digestible. 

Turns out insects aren’t just a nutritious option for your pet though, they’re good for the planet too. I’ve nicked this graph from Yora, the pet food brand I’ve bought, which shows the environmental impact meat production can have versus the grubs they use.

How the protein compares

I was shocked :astonished::scream:

And it got me thinking — what’s my pet’s carbon pawprint?! Answer: 770kg of CO2e per year for the average-sized dog and 310kg of CO2e per year for the average-sized cat. If you’ve got a Great Dane, you’re looking at around 2,500kg of CO2e per year. When you consider that there’s an estimated 12 million pets in the UK, that’s one hell of a lot of carbon.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting we forgo pets for the sake of our planet (Bobby is honestly the light of my life, and pets are proven to have many wonderful benefits :hearts:), but there are thankfully some things we can do to reduce their impact.  

Here’s what I’m doing so far:

  • Swapping out traditional dog food for an insect-based alternative — I’m pleased to say that Bob is a big fan of his new kibble
  • Getting food in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging and trips to the store
  • Buying eco-friendly toys made from sustainable jute and recycled plastic
  • Using biodegradable dog poop bags. 

Do you know what your pet’s carbon pawprint is? Have you made the swap to insect-based pet food, or would you consider doing so? What are your tips for reducing your pet’s impact on the planet? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

6 replies

Userlevel 7
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Such an interesting thread Alex, and another chance to stare at Bobbys adorable eyes🐶! What a gorgeous cutie! 💕🐾💕. It’s amazing how many dogs suffer gastro probs with everyday pet foods. I know my parents had the same probs when their dog was a puppy, and bought specialist food from their vets. Now she’s older, she can enjoy more varied foods, and no longer needs the vets special diet. 

Like you, Alex, my parents have started buying it in bulk, mainly so it’s less trips to the supermarket 🛒🚗during the pandemic, but now they’re embracing vegan foods, and becoming more aware of the planet, they are continuing to bulk buy it for that reason too👍👍. 

I larf at her as she sooooooo adores pasta and quorn🤣🤣🤣🐶💕🍝, always has from a puppy, Each time I visit, I expect her to have turned vegan 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣. I even did that Lady and the Tramp thing with the spaghetti once 🐶🍝😛I know it’s very early days re vegan pet foods, but I can deffo see it becoming more and more popular, and pets fitting in with a more plant based diet in coming years. 

Like you Alex, whenever I visit I like to take toys, and always try buy her the recycled toys or from planet friendly websites. 

I think now we have the mindset for the planet, it makes you look at everything you do and buy, without really even thinking about it now. As said in other threads, I find myself automatically looking for local, seasonal veg when shopping, since the PP challenge last year, and at first I thought jeeeez this is gonna make shopping way too tedious, but no, it doesn’t. It just becomes the norm, and as it becomes the norm for more and more, that can only be a good positive thing, for people, the planet, and their pets 👍👏💕🐾

Userlevel 4

Haha any excuse! He really is a beauty @Bev :heart_eyes:

That’s reassuring to hear that your parents managed to transition their dog back onto regular food. I hate to think of Bobby having so little variety in his life! 

I think you’re absolutely right about our pets’ diets evolving over time. It looks like insect-based food is fairly fresh onto the market, but I’m sure we’ll see more planet-friendly alternatives on the shelves soon - especially with so many pets and adoring pet owners out there wanting the very best for their little darlings, and becoming more aware of the environmental impact they may have. 

I did look into making Bobby’s meals from scratch before settling on this kibble. But it was far too confusing for me to work out the percentages of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins etc. he would need, so I gave up. I suppose that might be a good sustainable option for people with a knack for numbers, but that’s definitely not me (I’ll stick to the words!) 

The only problem I’m finding so far with the eco-friendly toys is that Bobby (and Biggles) go through them so quickly :joy:

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

@AlexHep great thread Alex, I heard a recent R4 article about insects being harvested for food. The biggest hurdle for human consumption is transcending the built in revulsion factor, which may take a very long time.

The (petfood) argument for vegetarians is simple here, if you already feed your pet meat and/or fish there can be no more of a moral objection to insects in the mix, in fact it’s morally better because the carbon footprint is reduced

But getting over the squirmy wormy factor is a different issue

One of our cats used to enjoy quorn chicken slices. Cats are fussier than dogs though, they go off a brand for no reason (that the human understands) so you have to then try to find something they like.

Talking of carbon footprints one of our cats decided to stand in some soot (open flame fire) once and walk across the carpet…


Userlevel 4

You’re absolutely right @woz - I went to a restaurant once that incorporated insects into its dishes. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure at first, and I was definitely squeamish about the deep-fried cricket they served up (legs intact), but the flavours of everything else were really good - they enhanced the food actually. 

I guess as insects start to become more commonplace in our pets’ food, habits might start to change. On day one I wasn’t sure about delving my hand into the bag of insect-y kibble, but now I don’t think anything of it, especially as Bobby seems to enjoy it a lot and it’s doing him some good too. So it’s a win-win-win, for me, my pup and the planet.  

I think so long as your pet is getting the right balance of nutrients to fire on, there’s no reason not to explore alternatives. A lot of what I’ve read advises against a purely vegan diet, for dogs at least, but it will be interesting to see if/how that changes as new foods are developed. There’s so many vegan alternatives to meat for humans these days, I can’t help but think things will go the same way for our pets, especially as it’s such a lucrative market. 

Sooty pawprints - now that’s the kind of carbon pawprint I can get behind :joy:

Userlevel 7
Badge +11

Spooky as on Dragons Den tonight, a lady was pitching a “Piddle Patch”, a square of cleanable, reusable grass, used indoors, when pet needs wee or poop if you’re out, or thru the night. Soooo much waste re the alternatives, this was a huge hit and snapped up by the new dragon. 



Userlevel 4

Oh my gosh, that photo @Bev :sob: I can’t cope with the cuteness :heart_eyes:

That is spooky! And a brilliant idea I think. Bobby came with puppy pads in his puppy pack from the breeders. They’re plastic-backed, virtually single-use, so wasteful and very expensive! I gave up using them after a few days as I think they were confusing him - he started peeing on anything that looked like a puppy pad :grimacing:  For people without outside space to hand, or those who need to leave their pup alone for a few hours as you say, this will be so helpful. 

It’s great to see so many sustainable alternatives coming out now!