Due to the growing awareness of the importance of quality food for pets, the pet food industry has crossed $90 billion globally. Since these products mostly contain canned meat, there is a hidden environmental cost to cat and dog food.
According to Brenda and Robert Valley’s book “Time to Eat the Dog?” The meat consumed by an average pet dog in a year has twice the carbon footprint as driving an SUV for 10,000 km. To highlight the concern, a 2017 study in the United States revealed that 160 million domestic cats and dogs in the country were responsible for 25 to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumed in the country. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 13 million petrol or diesel cars.
The issue is more subtle in countries such as the Netherlands where cows or sheep are raised specifically for their meat as pets. Besides, the pet food industry is also increasing the use of plastic globally, which is causing another environmental risk.
Another factor compounding the problem is overfeeding. This is specific to the developed world but emerging economies are catching up quickly. It is estimated that 55 percent of pet dogs in the United States are obese. Similarly, 40 percent of New Zealand’s pet dogs were found to be overfeeding.
Now, the biggest issue is pet meat consumption. However, there is a way to address this concern as well. According to the researchers, people should give their pets a diet rich in plant foods and reduce the animal food source.
Studies have also shown that eating an insect-based diet (instead of meat products) for pets would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They also noted that an insect-based food product makes a high-protein diet for pets. This is also more commercially viable. According to one research, while an acre of land can yield about 192 pounds of beef, it can yield 65,000 pounds of cricket or 130,000 pounds of black soldier fly larvae.
(Edited by: Thomas Abraham)