In Germany, dog owners spend almost two billion euros on dog food every year. When choosing a food, more and more dog owners not only want their dog to be well looked after, they also want it to be sustainable.
Environmental pollution, the extinction of species, the increased occurrence of so-called affluence diseases, poverty and world hunger – all of this is closely related to nutrition. Of course, this also applies to the food that ends up in the food bowl, even if it is mostly just the leftovers from human nutrition. The fact that our dogs get this “waste” makes ecological sense and is an integral part of human-dog history.
However, the sustainability of these foods should not be ignored. As a study from 2017 showed, the production of dog and cat food in the USA (for approx. 163 million dogs and cats) is responsible for the emission of the equivalent of 64 million tons of CO₂ per year. That corresponds to the annual output of twelve million cars.
Already knew? According to the life cycle assessment of Berlin scientists, a 15kg dog emits around 8.2 tons of CO2 over the course of an average of 13 years of life.
The term “sustainability” was originally coined by forestry. What was meant above all was that no more trees were felled than were planted. Sustainability means a development that takes into account both current and future needs and does not exhaust resources.
Meat plays a major role in dog nutrition and must definitely be considered when it comes to sustainability.
Dog food with a high meat content is currently very modern, but this is less justified: never before had people had such large amounts of meat, and accordingly dogs were rarely given such large amounts of meat. And that’s not even necessary! A high proportion of meat in dog food is by no means a criterion for quality!
Quite the opposite: in contrast to cats, dogs are not pure carnivores, but rather omnivores: They do not necessarily depend on large amounts of meat and can (and should) cover their nutritional needs with plant-based food! It is only important that they absorb all the necessary nutrients. In theory, dogs can even be fed a vegetarian diet.
How we feed our dogs affects many factors. Even small changes can help make dog nutrition more sustainable:
Also pay attention to the origin of the ingredients in the finished feed. B. Organic feed. There are more and more food manufacturers who value sustainable dog food production.
Dogs need more than just meat in their food: a high proportion of meat does not speak for quality! © Comugnero Silvana-stock.adobe.com
Factory farming, which makes the large mountains of meat in dog food possible in the first place, has a decisive influence on the environment. In the following, you will find out what negative consequences meat from factory farming has on the climate, dog health and society.
According to the Federal Office for the Environment, a total of 7.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions came from agriculture in 2018, making it the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases in Germany. A large part of this was caused by livestock farming through the release of methane.
The cow and the cattle in themselves are not “climate killers”, as is often said. Pasture areas are even important for climate and environmental protection: grazing animals stimulate the formation of humus in the soil, an important store for carbon, also a greenhouse gas. However, this effect does not apply to factory farming because it hardly takes up any grazing land and the animals spend most of their lives in the barn.
Instead, the tropical forests that protect the climate are cleared for the cultivation of animal feed for factory farming, which also means that habitats for animals and plants disappear, which leads to a decline in biodiversity.
Diet has a decisive influence on the health of the dog. The main purpose of food is to provide the organism with the nutrients it needs to function. But in addition to the climate aspect, factory farming is also questionable with regard to the health of the dog that eats the food produced in factory farming. There are several reasons for this:
As with us humans, civilization diseases seem to be increasing in our dogs, such as heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes, obesity, allergies, intestinal diseases, etc. Today’s diet is certainly an important factor.
Factory farming for pet food is bad for the climate, the health of dogs and for society. © akf-stock.adobe.com
The production of food can also have an impact on social issues. A large part of the grain that is grown ends up as fodder for the livestock in factory farming. According to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, that is around 60 percent of the grain harvest in Germany. Around 2/3 of the German grain harvest is therefore fed to livestock; worldwide it is around half.
This is problematic insofar as you first need a multiple of grain to produce meat. If at least some of the grain were used directly as food, many more people and animals could be supplied with food, and then perhaps there would be fewer people who would go hungry.
That doesn’t have that much to do with our dogs at first, since most of the “waste” from food production ends up in dog food. Since more and more dogs are now getting the fillet and not just the leftovers, it can be assumed that animals are also slaughtered for our dogs, for which, in turn, large amounts of grain were “wasted”.
Over many decades we have got used to the fact that meat, in particular, is a cheap food. The economy was also affected by cheap food. Of course, this only works if the food is grown and harvested (worldwide) by low-wage workers under poor working conditions. One must consciously counteract this process. If you resort to the possibly somewhat more expensive dog food that does not come from factory farming, you are investing not only in a healthier climate, but also in the health of your own dog
With a sustainable dog nutrition you help to steer many negative developments that affect the environment, health, society and the economy back on track. There are around 10 million dogs in Germany that need a lot of food. We can achieve a lot with the money that dog owners spend annually on this.