If you’re a person with a deep environmental consciousness and also a pet owner, then a study found that cats and dogs have an impact on environment changes too. There are 64 million tons of gases released into the atmosphere each year, produced directly and indirectly by American pets.
It’s All About the Food
The US has more than 163 million dogs and cats which consume food, mainly meat. Meat production affects our environment through raising livestock. Livestock means that land, water and a lot of energy are used in producing meat and for example, to produce a kg of pork, 24 kg of CO2 are emitted. For a kilo of beef, 1,000 kilos of CO2 are emitted.
It is true, not only our pets eat the meat, we do too. Studies have been made on how much meat production for humans affects the environment, but no study has been made in order to find out about our pets’ food until now.
Geographer Gregory Okin at UCLA took into his calculations a lot of details such as the number of cats and dogs in the US, their weights and the ingredients that are used in pet foods. He found out that pets consume 19% calories, in comparison to Americans, meaning that 163 million US pets consume as much as 62 million Americans. But there’s a slight issue: pets consume more meat than humans. They also create a 30% mass of poop, in comparison with the Americans.
In other words, taking into consideration all these facts, and according to Gregory Okin’s study, pets produce 64 million tons of nitrous oxide and methane which affect our climate.
What Should Pet Owners Do About It?
Not only American owners put climate at risk, but also other countries from different continents. In Asia, pet owners have increased in numbers.
There’s also the fact that pet food includes only left-overs from meat, so the impact should be recalculated, but a lot of owners opt for a high-quality pet food, which is a gourmet food that has more meat.
As a pet owner, there’s not much you can do. You could try a plant based protein to feed your pets or reduce the mass of treats they get. Gregory Okin states that the study is not meant to stop people from having pets; he just wants it taken into consideration as an addition in risks of climate changes.