Our pets are part of the climate problem. These tips can help you minimize their carbon pawprints


By Kimberly Richardson, CNN

via KAKE (KS) - Sep 15, 2022


Our four-legged friends don't drive gas-guzzling SUVs or use energy-sucking appliances, but that doesn't mean they don't have a climate impact. In fact, researchers have showed that pets play a significant role in the climate crisis.


But what do Barkley and Whiskers have to do with our warming planet? It's the products we buy for them that need a closer look.


Their meat-heavy diet is the biggest contributor to their carbon pawprints, which requires an abundance of energy, land and water to produce. And the production of pet food emits huge amounts of planet-warming gases.


According to a 2017 study, feeding dogs and cats creates the equivalent of around 64 million tons of carbon dioxide in the US each year. That's roughly the same impact as 13.6 million cars on the road. And, if our furry friends formed a separate country, it would rank 5th in global meat consumption behind China, the US, Brazil and Russia, according to UCLA professor and author of that study Gregory Okin.


But don't panic. Bidding farewell to your best friends is not the answer.


In addition to all the joy they bring, pets have a measurable positive impact on our physical health and mental wellbeing. Having a pet in the family is associated with lower stress, fewer heart attacks, lower rates of depression and increased self-esteem.


"Our work does not mean we are 'against' keeping pets," said Pim Martens, a professor of Sustainable Development at Maastricht University and someone who has researched the impact of pets on the planet. "There are lots of benefits as well. Just be aware of the 'side-effects."


So, what's a concerned pet parent to do? Here are some ways to minimize your pets' environmental impact while still caring for your furry fleet.


Do an assessment of your pet's diet ...


Cut out waste ...


Adopt responsibly ...