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Feeding Your Pet Dog And Cat Has Hidden Environmental Costs

6 August 2017, 1:27 am EDT By Athena Chan Tech Times
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As it turns out, pets contribute about 64 million tons of carbon emissions to the atmosphere by eating animal-derived food products. How can we care for our pets while taking care of the environment?  ( Pixabay )

A new research finds that the food consumption of pets actually has significant environmental impacts as cat and dog animal product consumption evidently leads to serious greenhouse gas emissions. Don't worry, a little adjustment is all it takes to make our pets more environment-friendly.

Pets' Food Consumption And Greenhouse Gases

Many people are aware that human food consumption actually has a significant impact on the planet. From agricultural land use to pesticide usage and waste management, food production and consumption lead to inevitable environmental consequences.

However, when measuring our environmental sustainability, certain members of our household are often overlooked when it comes to their own contribution to the equation. The United States has the largest population of cats and dogs in the world, and along with the country's incredible love for pets comes a whole lot of carbon emissions.

By studying data from The Census Bureau and The American Pet Products Association (APPA), it was found that 163 million cats and dogs fed with food products that contain animal-based content produce feces that amount to about 64 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

To put that into perspective, the United States produces about 260 million tons of carbon emissions by raising livestock. In other words, having meat-eating pets contributes significantly to the country's carbon footprint.

Mindful Pet Ownership

Naturally, pets don't even know about their contribution to this equation, and in no way does the researcher suggest that people should stop feeding their pets animal-based products altogether since cats and dogs need protein.

What it simply means is that perhaps pet owners should be more mindful of the food products as well as the amount of food they give their pets especially since it has been recently found that one in three dogs and cats in the United States are overweight.

"It is not just what we feed pets, but how we feed them that contributes to the environmental impacts of our pets, and obesity is a major problem among domestic animals," said Gregory Okin from the University of California, author of the study.

Again, the author is not suggesting pet owners turn their pets into vegetarians, or forgo having a pet altogether. The study merely suggests opening the conversation regarding the amount and kind of food we give our pets.

It's worth noting that this equation simply accounts for pet ownership in the United States. All across the world, pet ownership is becoming more widespread, so mindful pet-feeding is something that is turning into a relevant conversation.

As it turns out, responsible pet ownership can keep both the pets and the planet in a healthier state.

The study is published in the journal PLOS One.

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