Good for Pup and Planet: Why Dog Food Made in the USA Is Best For Sustainability
Sustainable Pet FoodWe are all trying to live more sustainably, whether that’s by reducing the amount of meat in our food or choosing to shop local, but environmental concerns are not limited to human food. As a responsible pet parent, feeding your furry friend the best quality pet food will be one of your top priorities, but could your dog’s food be hurting the planet? Are you sure your pet’s dinner was not produced in unethical ways involving the inhumane treatment of other animals or other questionable ethical practices? What about plastic and other non-recyclable materials used in pet food packaging?
Sustainability in pet food
Sustainability in cat and dog food has become a serious concern for many ethically sensitive consumers and rightly so. When we talk about sustainability and dog food, this extends to environmental, financial, social, and ethical sustainability. When choosing the right pet food for your four-legged friend, nutrition is now only one of the considerations – and as a responsible pet owner, you should take the time to verify whether pet food manufacturers follow a cycle of sustainability from where the food is sourced to when it ends up in your pet’s bowl.
Is pet food bad for the environment?
Studies have estimated that pet food is responsible for a quarter of the environmental impacts of meat products in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuels, phosphates and pesticides.
So, by choosing certain meat products, you could be increasing your pet’s carbon pawprint more than you realize.
By buying cheaper dog or cat food products, you could also be supporting large-scale factory farming, a high-polluting industry that causes considerable harm to the environment and fuels climate change.
Other pet food industry practices that could harm the planet include:
- The use of pesticides in soil and water
- Importing pet food from abroad – and thereby increasing the carbon footprint
- Non-recyclable pet food packaging – pet food often is often provided in plastic bags and other materials that could be harmful to the environment.
So, what can and should the pet food industry do to alleviate its impact on the planet?
Source sustainable protein
Sustainable pet food brands commit to purchasing sustainable protein and ingredients that are grown using regenerative farming practices – practices that, among other benefits, aim to help reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. These measures could include:
- Carbon sequestration – Carbon dioxide is the most commonly produced greenhouse gas. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change.
- Decreased pesticide usage – pesticides cause serious damage to agricultural ecosystems and it is important to curtail their use.
- Decreased runoff, which leads to better, healthier soil. Reducing runoff can help prevent water pollution, reduce flooding, and protect our precious drinking water resources.
Alternative forms of transportation
Pet food companies should try to cut down on their dependence on truck delivery, opting for more environmentally friendly transportation options such as sending ingredients directly from farmers via rail.
Supporting farms that work with cutting-edge green technology will help to boost regenerative farming practices.
By reducing, reusing and recycling pet food packaging, companies can reduce their carbon footprint.
Research plant-based food
Pet food companies have to work hard to find alternative sources of meat or protein sources that are more sustainable. Plant-based recipes require fewer resources to produce and release fewer carbon emissions, compared to meat-based recipes.
One example is the use of brewers yeast, used by Canidae™ in our new sustainable range Sustain, which is upcycled from the brewing industry and is an excellent source of protein for your pet.
Is it okay to feed a dog a vegan diet?
If you’re considering switching your dog to a vegan diet, you need to ensure the food has all the right nutrients to keep your pet healthy. It’s always best to consult your veterinarian to ensure your pup is getting all the essential nutrients they need.
So, what else can you do as a pet owner?
- Look for pet food brands that offer quality food made from wholesome, regeneratively farmed ingredients and premium, responsibly sourced proteins with no fillers.
- Choose vet-formulated recipes that meet AAFCO recommendations.
- Ensure you only buy pet food with “made in United States” labels: to reduce unneeded transport from overseas, thus reducing the carbon output
- Look for pet food brands that use recycled materials in their packaging in an effort to help to protect the environment. Opt for pet food brands that have a history of supporting sustainability throughout the pet food cycle
Unethical labor practices have been brought to light in some pet food manufacturing processes, such as the mistreatment of fish farmers in Asia. Consumers today also care a great deal about animal welfare in the supply chain and don’t take kindly to inhumane treatment, including animal testing and factory farming, keeping animals in cages or unacceptable conditions, and poor slaughtering practices.
So, what can pet food makers do?
Pet food producers should source protein sustainably, which also means ensuring all animals are treated well in the supply chain. For example, cage-free chickens are raised more humanely and stress-free – without cages, protected from the elements, and in an enriched environment with natural light and proper rest. By only using cage-free chickens, free-range lamb, beef and venison and sustainably sourced fish, pet food producers are one step closer to ensuring ethical sustainability.
What can pet owners do?
Look for pet food brands that offer sustainable proteins. If you’re opting for a fish-based diet, ensure you support brands that offer wild-caught salmon sourced from fisheries that maintain sustainable salmon populations and minimize the impact on their habitats.
Where the food is sourced from is just as important as the ingredient itself, also when it comes to economic sustainability. By buying pet food sourced from farmers based in the US, you are supporting the US economy and also helping to counter climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of imported pet food.
What can pet food brands do?
By buying directly from US farmers, responsible pet food manufacturers cut out the middlemen and ensure the farmers’ profits margins are as high as possible.
What can you do?
For starters, opt for pet food brands displaying the dog food “made in the USA” label, such as Canidae. As a responsible pet owner, you should check that you only support pet food manufacturers who have a history of supporting sustainability throughout the whole supply chain and who are constantly monitoring, evaluating and, if needed, correcting practices.
Canidae believes in delivering goodness to pets, people and the planet and we have introduced our own “cycle of goodness” to ensure sustainability all the way through the supply chain.
With the introduction of Sustain, our new environmentally-friendly offering, we now deliver premium recipes leveraging high quality, sustainably sourced proteins. And the packaging consists of 40% post-consumer recycled material – the highest percentage of recycled materials of any US pet brand. Canidae has a wide range of nutritious wet and dry dog foods − including grain free foods − made exclusively from quality ingredients and suitable for all dogs – large breeds and small breeds – at all life stages.