Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with 38% of Australian households owning dogs. Research has shown that dogs improve the quality of our lives, they are amazing companions that can help easy anxiety and increase overall happiness. They are great exercise companions and are a fantastic reason to get out of the house and go for a walk. Studies have shown that exposure to dogs can even improve our immune system. A recent study has also found that children who grow up with a pets are less likely to develop allergies. Yet are dogs very environmentally friendly?
As I own a dog, this is the question I put to myself “can my dog be environmentally friendly?” Research finds that a quarter of the impact of global meat production comes from the pet-food industry. Swanson and Carter suggest that pet food is based on consumer demand rather than nutritional requirements. They state that many commercial pet foods are formulated to provide nutrients in excess of current minimum recommendations, use ingredients that compete directly with the human food system, or are over consumed by pets resulting in food wastage and obesity of animals. With this in mind, I decided to take responsibility to reduce the waste of our beloved furry friends.
How to Make Your Own Pet Food?
There is a lot of information out there about what is truly in pet food. Overall it isn’t great. The food consists of mainly by-products and all sorts of things that dogs shouldn’t be eating, such as wood chips. So cooking your own pet food will do wonders for your pets health while reducing waste. The easiest way to make pet food is in a rice cooker or slow cooker. The recipe itself changes depending on what I have in the fridge and what’s in season. I usually include some type of meat, vegetable and grain, with the occasional egg.
Protein (40- 80%): boneless chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, pork, or duck and eggs which can be cooked with their crushed shells included for extra calcium. Organ meats are very healthy as well, but typically should not make up more than 15% of the diet. If you have a slow cooker, buy some bones and slowly cook with vegetables. This can be a base that can be added to your fibre-rich carbohydrates.
Fruits & vegetables (5 – 10%): fruits and vegetables provide fibre that supports digestive health, as well as antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients that contribute to health and longevity. Vegetables such as carrot and beetroot are good options. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins provide carbohydrate calories that can be helpful to reduce food costs for very active dogs. Starchy foods must be cooked in order to be digestible by dogs. Bananas, apples, berries, melon, and papaya are also good choices. Avoid grapes and raisins, which can cause kidney failure in dogs.
Fibre- rich Carbohydrates (20-60%): grains may contribute to inflammation caused by allergies, arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, many dogs do fine with grains and they can be used to reduce the overall cost of feeding a homemade diet. Grains and starchy veggies should make up no more than half of the diet. Good choices include oatmeal, brown rice, barley, and pasta. White rice can be used to settle an upset stomach, particularly if overcooked with extra water, but it’s low in nutrition and should not make up a large part of the diet. All grains must be well cooked. Look to buy your grains in a large sack that can be stored.
Eggs: are highly nutritious and tend to give dogs fur a nice shine. Add cracked eggs to your dogs diet every couple of days.
Dairy: plain yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta and kefir are well tolerated by most dogs. Limit other forms of cheese and dairy, as most are too high in fat. You can always freeze some yogurt to make it more fun for young dogs. In the next article I will post a recipe on how to make yogurt. Super easy and you’ll never run out.
Compost Pet Poo
One medium-sized dog produces about 180 kilograms of poo a year. With about 9 million dogs in Australia, it can start to really pile up especially when the poo is wrapped up in plastic and thrown into landfill. Dog and cat poo can be composted and used as sustainable source of fertiliser for forest planting.
If your house has access to a green bin, then use it. Your local council most likely makes high temperature compost from the resources in the green bin. If you don’t have access to a green bin then you could make a pet-poo compost bin that converts pet poo into compost to be used on ornamental plants and fruit trees. There are certain ways to make sure that no pathogens pass to the soil. This article explains how human manure is composted which is a similar process.
Stay tuned on how to make your own pet-poo compost bin.
Use Cornstarch Doggie Bags
Now sometimes you’ll find that you need a doggie poo bag. When purchasing bags look for 100% compostable bags made from cornstarch and other vegetable material. These bags do not contain any polyethylene. You may be aware of the ‘biodegradable’ and ‘degradable’ plastic bags, which are polyethelene bags with a percentage of plant starch or additives. These bags break down into tiny pieces of plastic debris that do not compost and end up in our waterways. This is why you need to keep an eye out for 100% compostable cornstarch bags.
How to Make Natural Flea Treatment?
Fleas are something pet owners may have to deal with at some point. They are incredibly irritating for our furry friends and if not treated can lead to complications. This recipe has been tried and tested by many. It is a simple natural treatment that may help keep fleas at bay.
- Spray bottle
- Apple cider vinegar
- Half-fill the spray bottle with apple cider vinegar.
- Fill the remainder of the bottle with water.
- Shake to combine.
- Apply daily, or as needed, avoiding the eyes and respiratory areas.