Did you know that your dog carbon footprint might be bigger than you realize?
It’s true. Some large breeds can have a footprint as large as a person because of their diet and needs.
Knowing more about the carbon footprint of dogs can help you reduce the impact, and get your pooch’s emissions reduced safely and easily.
By learning more about your dog’s possible contribution to climate change, you can take targeted steps to lower its carbon footprint.
Calculate your dog’s yearly carbon footprint here:
However, this isn’t the only thing. This guide outlines where those emissions for your dog carbon footprint comes from, and what you can do to lower it, right now.
Carbon Footprint of Dogs: Breed Calculator
The carbon footprint of a dog by breed is actually dependent on their weight and size instead of their genetics. For instance, if you have a Doberman and a Pomerenian, the former will only have a larger environmental impact due to their size instead of their specific breed.
By being mindful of this distinction, you can calculate your dog’s carbon footprint by their size or weight instead of their family tree. This makes sure that your estimations are as accurate as possible.
It is also crucial that you remember not every dog’s diet is the same. Some may eat more, while others may eat less.
In turn, you should make your estimates by following your dog’s specific eating habits.
This comprehensive approach does not limit your dog’s carbon footprint to their breed. Instead, it takes into account dog breed, size, weight (list), and diet.
In turn, you can get a better idea about lowering your dog’s carbon footprint.
The Carbon Footprint of Dogs: Environmental Impact of Pet Food, Care, and Accommodations
Dogs can do wonders for your well-being through their companionship, joyfulness, and loyalty. But they also have an impact on the environment that is mainly associated with the energy footprint of pet food production.
It is because meat-based pet foods use noticeable quantities of animal protein in them. In turn, the resources that are used for the growth and management of livestock as well as the production of pet food can create significant carbon emissions.
The factors that contribute to this environmental impact include but are not limited to the following.
Usage of Land
The production and management of livestock require a large amount of land, which would otherwise be used to plant trees. This limits the amount of oxygen produced by the Earth and leads to a high amount of greenhouse gases (GHGs) affecting the environment.
Consumption of Water
The amount of water that is consumed for livestock management and meat production also leads to GHGs. Along with water distribution systems that consume a lot of energy,1 water vapors that occur due to climate change also trap these GHGs in the environment.2
Production of Meat and Pet Food
The environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats are further emboldened by the energy and water that is used during meat production.
The production process also emits GHGs, which in turn contribute to the meat carbon footprint and affect climate change.
Distribution of Pet Food
The distribution cycle also contributes to the carbon footprint of pet food. This mainly occurs due to the amount of fuel that transportation measures consume and the GHGs that they release to the environment in return.
Utilization of Plastic
Plastic dog poop bags pose the same problem as other plastic products. For one, they do not decompose easily and remain harmful to wild and marine life, especially the latter.
Secondly, they are made from harmful plastics that emit greenhouse gasses which contributes to the plastic carbon footprint. When put together, all of these factors make for an astounding figure for the carbon footprint of a dog.
Combined with the carbon footprint of a cat for its food, this leads to both domestic dogs and cats consuming around 25 percent of all calories derived through animals in the U.S.3 This equals 64 million metric tons of CO2.4
To put matters in perspective, that is around the same amount of CO2 equivalent (CO2-eq) emissions produced by 13 million vehicles a year.5 This sheds light on the high amount of carbon footprint of pet industry in the U.S. and across the globe.
Additionally, it also highlights the importance of purchasing carbon credits individuals and families can use to balance the carbon footprint of dog ownership.
Dogs’ Impact on the Environment: Important Factors You Need To Know About the Carbon Footprint of Dogs
Dogs’ impact on the environment is mostly limited to the environmental impact of pet food.6
Since the carbon footprint from the living, care, and accommodation arrangements of dogs and cats is interlinked with humans, the main factor that contributes to the carbon footprint of dog and cat remain the diet that they consume.
This means that your German Shepherd or Teacup Poodle is not the culprit to climate change by their mere existence. Instead, their main environmental impact comes from the food that they eat and which you serve to them.
Some of it also comes from the use of plastic dog poop bags. This also means that you can learn how to reduce your dogs’ carbon footprint through a few sustainable practices.
But in order to do so, you need to understand what is the carbon footprint of dog ownership through a pet carbon footprint calculator that gives you estimates according to a dog breed, size, weight (list), and diet. This allows you to determine how much CO2-eq emissions your dog might be contributing to the environment.
From there, it becomes easier for you to take precise steps that let you lower the carbon footprint of dogs who are a part of your household.
Dogs and Sustainability: Dog Carbon Footprint Calculator
In order to understand the carbon footprint of dog ownership, you need to keep in mind that your dog’s main source of CO2-eq emissions is their food.
This means that the more food your dog consumes, the more carbon emissions they indirectly cause. This is where dog breed plays a part due to its influence on your dog’s size more than anything else.
As a rule of thumb, you should feed your dog at least 1/4 to 1/3 lb of meat protein daily for every 20 lb of body weight.7 This meat protein could come in the form of beef or chicken for your dog’s food.8
This means that if you have a male Great Dane who weighs around 160 lb, you should feed him at least 2 lbs of meat protein every day along with other ingredients in his diet. In contrast, if you have a female chihuahua who weighs 7 lbs, she would require at least 1/4 lb of meat per day.
Apart from your dog’s body weight and size, the dog carbon footprint can differ depending on the type of meat protein that you choose. While beef has a higher average carbon footprint of approximately 71 kg of CO2-eq per kilogram, chicken has a much lower carbon footprint of 10 kg of CO2-eq per kilogram.
Remembering these figures can be difficult at first. But understanding the amount of CO2-eq emissions per kilogram of meat consumed can help you make more environmentally friendly choices for your dog’s diet.9
Keeping this in mind, here are different calculation methods to determine the carbon footprint of dogs according to their diet.
Related Reading: What Does Sustainably Sourced Mean? (The Surprising Real Answer)
Carbon Footprint of Pet Food Calculator
Using a calculator to understand the carbon footprint of having a dog can help you determine the emissions that are associated with your pet. However, these figures are approximations and should only be taken as a guideline.
It is also important to remember that this estimation does not include the carbon footprint of fresh produce that can make up the composition of dog food.10 Instead, they only take into account the carbon footprint of a dog based upon their consumption of meat protein.
With this in mind, the following table tells you what is the carbon footprint of a dog for their meat protein consumption according to their weight and diet.
|Dog Weight||Daily Meat Protein||CO2-eq per Year (Beef Diet)||CO2-eq per Year (Chicken Diet)|
|Under 20 lbs||0.25 lb||2.91 metric tons||0.41 metric tons|
|30 lbs||0.37 lb||4.36 metric tons||0.61 metric tons|
|40 lbs||0.50 lb||5.83 metric tons||0.82 metric tons|
|50 lbs||0.62 lb||7.28 metric tons||1.02 metric tons|
|60 lbs||0.75 lb||8.74 metric tons||1.23 metric tons|
|70 lbs||0.87 lb||10.19 metric tons||1.43 metric tons|
Apart from taking these estimates as a guideline for your home-cooked pet food, you can also use these calculations to determine the amount of meat protein used within branded kibble or pet food.
This allows you to understand an approximation of the impact that your dog has on the planet each year.
Energy Footprint of Pet Food Production: What Is the Carbon Footprint of Pet Industry?
The pet food industry alone contributes to the production of 56 – 151 metric tons of CO2-eq each year.29
This equals 3 percent of all CO2 emissions that are produced by agricultural practices.
This is why, it is important that you judge your dog’s carbon footprint through multiple factors such as dog breed, size, weight (list), and diet.
What Are the Environmental Impacts of Food Consumption by Dogs and Cats?
The food consumption of dogs and cats can emit around 64 million metric tons of CO2-eq each year.
These greenhouse gases can then get trapped in the environment and contribute to climate change.
Pet Dogs: Impact on the Environment and Climate Change
The main reason behind the high carbon footprint of dogs is the diet that they consume.
Since agriculture has a large impact on the environment,11 the protein and other nutrients that go into your dog’s food leave a high carbon footprint on the planet.
In addition to the land, water, and energy used for meat production, the amount of methane that is emitted by ruminants such as cows and lambs also stands out as a huge factor.
Besides the ruminant digestion system that emits methane through enteric fermentation, this also includes the emissions that come from their waste in the form of methane and nitrous oxide.
When these greenhouse gases get trapped in the environment, the effect of ruminants on the environment becomes a significant challenge for the planet to handle.12 When global temperatures rise because of these GHGs, the effects of climate change can include but are not limited to the waste of resources and an increase in natural disasters.13
When your dog consumes a diet that largely comprises beef, the environmental impact of agriculture becomes evident in their carbon footprint. However, since chickens are not ruminants, they do not emit as much GHGs despite still having a noticeable carbon footprint due to agricultural practices.
Over time, these bags can affect the environment by breaking down into toxic particles. They also affect marine life.
But that’s not all. The production and distribution of plastic bags emit greenhouse gases at every step.15
When you use plastic dog poop bags, you can end up contributing to these effects.
How Much Methane Do Dogs Produce?
The methane that dogs produce is directly linked to the type of diet that they consume. If your dog consumes 2.2 lbs of beef every day, their annual methane emissions would be approximately 12.77 metric tons.
On the other hand, if your dog consumes 2.2 lbs of chicken every day, their annual methane emissions will be approximately 95 kilograms. With that being said, this does not take into account the other greenhouse gases that are still harmful to the environment.20
How To Reduce Your Dogs Carbon Footprint: Chicken, Homemade Food, and Alternate Sources of Protein
While looking to reduce your dog’s impact on the environment, even a few steps can go a long way in decreasing the harm that your pet can cause to the planet.
These measures include but are not limited to the following.
Make Pet Food at Home
While kibble is convenient, making your dog’s foot at home helps you keep tabs on the supply chain and sourcing practices of ingredients.
This also allows you to choose vendors that have a relatively low carbon footprint.
Switch to a Chicken-Based Diet
You can feed your dog a chicken-based diet due to the comparatively lower carbon footprint chicken is associated with. But when you do, make sure that your dog is not allergic to chicken.
When cooking chicken, you should also separate the meat from the bone to prevent choking hazards.
Do Not Overfeed
It’s not bad to want the best for your dog. But making sure that they are fed every time they make puppy eyes can actually go against their health as well as the environment.
Make sure that you do not overfeed your dog and keep them from joining the 54 percent of dogs in the United States who are overweight.16
Use Different Sources of Protein
While your dog’s diet should have a minimum amount of meat protein according to their weight, they can also get their daily source of protein through other sources.
When you make pet food at home, ensure that you are using different vegetables and grains to make a protein-rich diet.
Eggs are also a protein rich substitute for beef, but remember, meat is vital to a dog’s health, so you don’t want to eliminate it altogether.
Utilize Alternatives to Plastic Dog Poop Bags
Dog poop bags lead to plastic pollution in the environment, which emits greenhouse gases and also affects marine life.
In order to lower this impact, look into alternatives to dog poop bags.17 This goes a long way towards reducing your dog’s contribution to climate change.
You can also purchase pets carbon offset credits to manage the carbon footprint that your dog leaves on the planet.
This lets you go a step further than simply judging the carbon footprint of a dog by their dog breed, size, weight (list), and diet.
How To Lower Your Personal Carbon Footprint: Startup Companies and Nonprofit Organizations Can Help
There are several startups and nonprofit organizations that can help you reduce your overall carbon footprint. This includes businesses and organizations in the following sectors.
- Sustainable clothing companies.
- Community trade-based personal/skincare businesses.
- Environmentally friendly farmers.
- Renewable energy sources.
- Carbon offset programs.
The Carbon Footprint of a Dog Can Be Significant Which Is Exactly Why You Need To Pay Attention to It
When you feed your dog a diet consisting largely of beef or don’t make an effort to cut down on their carbon footprint, it can have major repercussions for the environment.
That is why it is important that you learn about the carbon footprint of dogs on planet Earth and take targeted measures to reduce it wherever possible.
Carbon Footprint of Dog Ownership: What Is the Carbon Footprint of a Dog?
The carbon footprint of a dog is mostly linked to the environmental impact of pet food.18 This also means that the CO2-eq emissions that your dog produces relate to their body weight in relation to their diet.
For instance, if you have a large- or medium-sized dog, their animal protein consumption will be higher than that of a small-sized dog.
On an average basis, the approximate carbon footprint of a large- or medium-sized dog ranges from 8.364 metric tons to 20.2 metric tons per year.19 However, these are simple estimations based on a diet that uses chicken as the meat protein source.
What Is an Imported Dog Carbon Footprint?
The carbon footprint of a dog that is imported takes into account the carbon emissions that were produced by the flight on which the dog traveled.
For instance, if you import your dog from London to Los Angeles, their travel would end up participating in around 0.82 metric tons of CO2-eq for the flight.28 But once your dog is with you, their status of being imported does not have an impact on their CO2 emissions.
The actual figures for your dog’s carbon footprint may vary depending on their weight and diet.20
In addition to this, the usage of plastic dog poop bags also adds to your dog’s impact on the environment. However, there is limited to no research available that could outline
Frequently Asked Questions About a Dog Carbon Footprint
What Is the Carbon Footprint of a Dog, UK Statistics?
The average dog carbon footprint in the UK is around 770 kg of CO2-eq per year,21 but this is just an approximation and the actual dog carbon footprint can differ on a case-to-case basis. It is also mainly influenced by the dog’s diet.
What Are the Values of Carbon Footprint Dog vs Child?
An average 40-lb dog on a beef-based diet can create emissions as high as 5.83 metric tons of CO2-eq per year. In comparison, having a child can contribute around 58 metric tons for every year the parent takes care of their child.22
What Is Your Pets’ Carbon Footprint, Chicken vs Dog?
If you use organically-grown chicken feed for the chickens that you keep in your backyard,23 their annual carbon emissions remain minimal and could range around 10 kg of CO2-eq per year per chicken. On the other hand, an average 20-lb dog of a small size and breed can emit around 2.91 metric tons of CO2-eq per year on a beef diet, and around 0.41 metric tons of CO2-eq per year on a chicken diet.
What Is the Carbon Footprint of a Dog vs SUV and Carbon Footprint of Car?
The average carbon footprint of a dog on a chicken-based diet ranges from 0.41 – to 1.23 metric tons while SUVs generate around 14 percent more than the average car’s emissions.27 Whereas, the average carbon footprint of a car is around 4.6 metric tons of CO2-eq per year.26
What Does a Pet Carbon Footprint Calculator Do?
A pet carbon footprint calculator allows you to determine the environmental impact of your pet, which mainly comes from their food. After learning this information, you can make an informed decision about reducing the carbon footprint of your pet through certain changes in their diet and care measures.
What Is the Carbon Footprint of Owning a Horse?
The carbon footprint of owning a horse is lower than that of owning ruminants such as cows or sheep.30 However, there is little to no data available on determining the actual carbon footprint of keeping a horse.31
Why Do You Need a Carbon Footprint Calculator for Students?
A carbon footprint calculator for students can help you determine the impact of your lifestyle on the environment, while also allowing you to decide majors and specializations that help you make a difference in the world. This makes it a breeze for you to understand the environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats, as well as the effects of climate change caused by humans.
Should You Use a Carbon Footprint Calculator for Business?
If you want to play your part in protecting the environment as a business owner, it is important that you look into a business carbon footprint calculator. This makes sure that you are able to track the environmental impact of your business practices such as your production cycles and supply chain management which will then help you curb your carbon footprint through simple yet effective steps.
Do You Need a Carbon Footprint Calculator for Kids?
The concept of climate change can be scary for kids at first, but in order to truly change the sentiment towards the inevitable harm to the planet through the practices of the human race, it is crucial that you explain the benefits of sustainability and environmentally friendly lifestyles to your kids. Using a carbon footprint calculator for kids can help you achieve that feat, while also simplifying the complex topics for young minds.
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