The Best Sustainable Dog Care Tips

zero waste dog

My pup, Polly, became part of the family before I started on my  low waste, eco friendly journey nearly five years ago! When we adopted her from the animal shelter, choosing sustainable pet products wasn’t top of mind then. And even though I’ve been working to reduce our household waste for years now, I still continue to struggle with zero waste dog care. There are some aspects of low waste pet care that I’m doing an excellent job at (*ahem* zero waste dog treats!) while others I’m on the hunt for the right solution for our family pup even now.

I’m hoping this post will maybe help some other dog owners find solutions for sustainable pet care, but also in hunkering down and doing the research, I’d like to find some answers of my own for my sustainable pup. If you have any advice/suggestions, please do share them in the comments section of this post! I love learning of ways we can reduce our carbon footprint in our daily lives especially as pet parents.

Low Waste Dog Food Ideas

I’ve been purchasing dog kibble in large bags from the grocery store since I very first adopted my dog Polly! Unfortunately, those bags of dog food tend to be lined with plastic and must be sent to the landfill when empty. So I usually just try to buy the largest bag I can at the store. However, I did a little crowd sourcing in the Tiny Yellow Bungalow Facebook group a few weeks back to hear what other sustainable pet food ideas are out there.

Homemade Dog Food

I have a few friends that make their own dog food from scratch. How cool! I didn’t even consider making homemade dog food as an option. If you do plan to make your own dog food at home, be sure to research before preparing it. You’ll want to make sure your dog has a well balanced diet! Check out this post The Do’s and Don’ts of Homemade Dog Food.

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Sustainable Dog Food Options

Now, if you are like me, and don’t want to take the time to make dog food in your own kitchen, the next best option I learned about from our Facebook group is a brand called Open Farm. Apparently, this brand of pet food is super transparent about the sourcing of their non-GMO ingredients. Also, you can recycle the dog food bag through Terracycle when empty. It’s not a completely waste free option but I think it’s a great solution to reduce your environmental impact.

The pet food industry is a 22 billion dollar industry and in recent years there have been an influx of speciality pet food brands. What we know is that “human-grade” ingredients aren’t always great for the environment. Meat production for humans alone has a huge impact on the environment (which is why we encourage eating less animal products when you can!) Brands that make pet food with byproducts are definitely more sustainable since they are reducing waste! They use animal parts that would often be sent to the landfill.

Furthermore, choosing a pet food brand that’s made in the United States is a good option. In this way, you can reduce the carbon emissions (food miles) of your pet’s food.

If you have any low waste dog food recommendations to share, I would love to hear about them in the comments section!

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Zero Waste Dog Poop Disposal

Ok, what to do with the poo?! There are a few different options for pet waste disposal.

  1. Use plastic bags you already have. For example, if you purchase a loaf of bread or bag of bagels from the grocery store, they tend to come in a plastic bag. You could reuse these bags as dog poo bags.
  2. Use compostable dog poop bags or biodegradable bags. There are tons of compostable dog poop bags on the market these days. Many of them are made from bioplastics. My only concern about compostable bags is that nothing composts in the landfill. The process of composting requires air (hence, turning your compost heap with a shovel or spinning your compost tumbler). Landfills tightly compact garbage together so there isn’t any circulation, meaning you are basically preserving the dog poo in the landfill. I know… pretty gross, haha!
  3. Backyard Dog Poop Composter. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Doggie Dooley poo composter but maybe you could come up with a similar system of composting dog waste in your backyard. Unfortunately, you can’t compost dog poop with your regular household compost, so you’d definitely need a separate system.

Zero Waste Dog Treats Recipe

zero waste dog treats

My dog Polly adores homemade dog treats! They’re super simple to prepare. We love to make fresh juice at our house, and I usually toss the leftover juice pulp in the compost. However, a fellow zero waster mentioned that you can use the pulp to make dog treats so I decided to try it out! Not only are they completely waste free but also vegan. Here’s the recipe I used:

3 cups leftover juice pulp (I keep leftover pulp in the freezer until I have 3 cups worth)

1 cup oats

1/2 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together all ingredients. Roll out dough into cookie sized balls and place on a baking sheet. Bake treats until hard, about 15 minutes. Cool and then they are ready for your pup to enjoy!

These zero waste dog treats were so simple to make and such a fun way to use leftover juice pulp rather than just tossing it in the compost bin. I’m excited to experiment more with the recipe.

Do you have a favorite homemade dog treat recipe?

Bulk Dog Treats

Another zero waste dog treat option is purchasing dog treats in bulk! Our local pet store has a bulk section for pet treats. We love to go there and fill up on dog treats without the plastic waste. I take a reusable bulk bag with me to fill up, and then empty them into my own glass jar when I get home! I know this isn’t an option for everyone.

On the flip side, I’ve noticed that a lot of dog treats at the grocery store come packaged in recyclable packaging. If you purchase dog treats in a paper box, you could at the very least compost or recycle the box. This might be a good option for your pup if you don’t have bulk treats available or the time to make homemade treats from scratch.

zero waste dog

Sustainable Dog Toys

To be completely honest, I don’t buy Polly a lot of new toys. She’s a heavy chewer and will destroy just about every single toy I give her in a matter of minutes. Seriously, stuffed animals will be shredded in to tiny pieces in thirty seconds flat haha. We usually stick to large marrow filled bones because they last a long time. Yes, they do often come wrapped in plastic, but they just last so much longer in comparison to other pet toys.

If you don’t have a heavy chewer, consider purchasing pet toys secondhand if you can, purchasing pet toys made of hemp or other natural materials, or even making your own DIY pet toys. You can take old t-shirts and knot/braid them into the perfect tug of war toy for your dog!

My dog Polly does have a lot of energy. I feel like more important than giving her toys to play with at home, she needs plenty of exercise. We always make sure she gets a good run in with Sebastian daily. She’s less likely to get into mischief if she’s tired. Be sure to exercise your pups! 

zero waste dog toy

Zero Waste Dog Shampoo

Need to wash your pooch but don’t want to purchase dog shampoo in plastic bottles? I’ve got you! Check out this awesome zero waste dog shampoo bar. This is a long lasting plastic free bar that can last for about 50 washes depending on the size of your pup. Making bath time sustainable is simple with this pup shampoo.

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Eco Friendly Dog Food Bowls

Choosing an eco friendly dog bowl is a great way to provide a sustainable and safe feeding solution for your pup. Sustainably made food and water bowls are made from renewable and biodegradable materials such as bamboo, stainless steel, or recycled plastics. They are free from harmful chemicals and toxins, ensuring the safety of your furry friends. My personal favorite eco dog bowl is purchasing one secondhand.

Sustainable Pet Bedding

There are several sustainable dog bedding brands that prioritize eco-friendly materials and production practices. Here are a few examples:

  1. West Paw: West Paw offers a range of pet products, including dog beds made from recycled materials. Their beds are designed for durability, comfort, and sustainability. They use recycled IntelliLoft fiber fill, which is derived from plastic bottles, in their beds.
  2. Molly Mutt: Molly Mutt provides eco-friendly dog bedding options with their unique concept. They offer duvet covers that you can fill with your own old clothes, towels, or blankets, essentially upcycling and repurposing existing materials as dog bedding. This approach reduces waste and allows you to customize the comfort level of the bed.
  3. P.L.A.Y.: P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You) is a brand that creates sustainable and stylish dog beds. They use eco-friendly materials such as recycled plastic bottles to fill their beds, and their covers are made from durable and machine-washable fabrics. P.L.A.Y. also partners with the nonprofit organization 1% for the Planet, donating a portion of their sales to environmental causes.
  4. Bowsers Pet Products: Bowsers Pet Products offers a line of dog beds made from sustainable and non-toxic materials. Their beds are made from eco-friendly fabric options like organic cotton, hemp, and recycled polyester. Bowsers Pet Products focuses on durability and comfort while considering environmental impact.

If you have other eco-friendly pet products recommendations, I’d love to hear about them! Sustainable pet ownership isn’t always black and white but it’s nice to find ways to reduce our impact where we can.

Are you looking for sustainable cat care tips like low waste cat litter, cat toys, and sustainable cat food options? Check out Earth Friendly Tips post all about the best eco friendly cat products!

zero waste dog care tips

11 thoughts on “The Best Sustainable Dog Care Tips

  1. Trying to find a good recipe for cat treats… I know this is dog specific, but do you have any experience or knowledge of DIY cat treats?

    1. That’s a great question! I feel like there are plenty of great homemade dog treat recipes out there, but I really don’t know of any cat treat recipes. Let me know if you find a good recipe that your cat likes!

  2. If you left out the word ‘dog’, it would be still a perfectly valid article I feel :)))

    1. Haha, so true! I will admit I tried some myself and they weren’t too bad! 🙂

  3. This is GENIUS!!! I am allllways looking for new ways to use my juice pulp! I recently made some fruit leathers which turned out bomb, but I can’t wait to give these a try. Thanks for sharing! <3

    1. They’re great and my dog loves them! Let me know if you try them out! We keep juice pulp stock piled in the freezer and make these when we’ve got enough saved up!

    2. Do you have a recipe for this you would share?

  4. What do you do about accidents? I have 2 dogs and 2 cats. All but one of them have regular accidents (pee, poop, puke) a few times a week. These accidents are the only thing I feel standing between me and being paper towel free.

    1. I’m with you on this one! We don’t have paper towels in our house, but I do have a stash of emergency paper napkins that we’ve gotten from various takeout food orders this year that I keep around for dog throw up!

  5. I have used Doggie Dooley composters successfully for years. I can’t imagine sending the poop elsewhere or putting it in any kind of trash container. My first one is not like the one pictured in the link. I bought it at a local pet store. It was just a square pyramid (I think plastic) with no bottom that was buried up to the top in the ground with a plastic step on lid. I did not dig a hole under it. I had one dog for 13 years, and though I bought enzymes for it, I never added them! I might have added water occasionally, but not often. The pyramid was only about 12″ tall, and we put all the poop in it, and it just goes away. The container never got full. He was a medium dog, about 75 lbs. full grown. When he got old we got a new pup, so I bought the two dog “wet” composter, dug a 4 ft hole underneath and used water and enzyme. The wet composter is metal except for the step on lid. It is supposed to liquify the waste, which overflows the top of the container and drops into the 4 foot hole.This did not work as well as the dry composter, it stinks (the dry one did not smell at all), and stops working once the temperature gets below 40. But the poop still goes away. We never cleaned the container out after the first winter, but it does not smell anymore. We had made a raised bed 5×7 to try to limit the size of the “poop yard” (one narrow side of our house) and filled it with layers of gravel, then sand, then a smelly thing from the pet store to encourage the dogs to pee there) and put astroturf on top. And surrounded it with a row of rose scented geranium plants, because our old dog like to poop near it because then it doesn’t stink. The idea was we would just have to rake the poop off the astroturf into the composter. But the dogs would not poop on the astroturf, only on real grass. But when the wet Doggie Dooley stopped working, we just collected the poop from wherever we found it (the young dog was unclear on the concept of the poop yard, the old dog never pooped anywhere else) and threw it on the astroturf. It dried quickly in the sun and never smelled. It eventually crumbles to powder. The poop was hidden from view because the rose scented geraniums grow like a stink weed. I recently cut them way back, thinking they would die off and have to be replaced (they were about 3 ft tall!) But they are coming back and I have several 1 ft high clumps of it still around the raised bed. I took out the Astroturf and put real sod there. The young dog now pees there, and poops reliably in other parts of the poop yard. Old old dog has passed on. The moral is, you don’t have to send the poop away, you can process it in your own yard odorlessly and completely. We have a vegetable compost not far from the poop yard and we never add anything of animal origin to it, but I am starting to compost shredded (non-glossy) paper and cardboard in it because I don’t trust the trash company’s recyclers to do it. We use the finished veg compost for our plants, but the dog compost, we just want it to go away. It doesn’t take much area or fuss. I definitely recommend the dry method though. If I had more than one dog again I would have one dry Doggie Dooley for each dog. (if they were big)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! This is really helpful information. I appreciate it!!

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