Australia has one of the world’s highest pet ownership rates, 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 ease anxiety and increase overall happiness. They are great exercise companions and a fantastic reason to get out of the house and 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 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 over 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 about what is genuinely in pet food. Overall, it could be better. The food consists mainly of by-products and all sorts of things that dogs shouldn’t eat, such as wood chips. So, cooking your pet food will do wonders for your pet’s health while reducing waste. The easiest way to make pet food is in a rice or slow cooker. The recipe changes depending on what I have in the fridge and what’s in season. I usually include meat, vegetables and grain, with the occasional egg.
Protein (40- 80%): boneless chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, pork, or duck and eggs, which can be cooked with crushed shells included for extra calcium. Organ meats are also very healthy 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, antioxidants, and other beneficial nutrients that contribute to health and longevity. Vegetables such as carrots and beetroot are good options. Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkins provide carbohydrate calories to help reduce food costs for active dogs. Starchy foods must be cooked to be digestible by dogs. Bananas, apples, berries, melon, and papaya are 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 at most half of the diet. Good choices include oatmeal, brown rice, barley, and pasta. White rice can be used to settle an upset stomach, mainly 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 give dogs’ fur a nice shine. Add cracked eggs to your dog’s 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 fun for young dogs. In the following article, I will post a recipe for making yogurt. It’s super easy, and you’ll always have enough.
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 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 a 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 specific ways to ensure no pathogens pass to the soil. This article explains how human manure is composted, a similar process.
Stay tuned on how to make your 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 materials. These bags do not contain any polyethylene. You may be aware of the ‘biodegradable’ and ‘degradable’ plastic bags, which are polyethylene 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.
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Also would love to hear how you keep your furry friends healthy. Comment below.