Has it ever occurred to you that taking your dog for a walk makes more of a carbon footprint than driving your SUV to the store? Most likely, it has never crossed your mind, but according to a husband and wife team of scientists from New Zealand, your dog has a larger carbon footprint than a mid-size SUV.
The Key Discoveries
The scientists from New Zealand, Robert and Brenda Vale revealed their findings in the book “Time to Eat the Dog, the Real Guide to Sustainable Living.” One of the more surprising findings was it matters not if you have a small breed of dog, or one of the larger dog breeds, the carbon footprint they make varies only a small amount. Dogs are also not the only household pets that have a carbon footprint.
Cats, gerbils, and even gold fish have carbon footprints, although not on the scale of dogs. So just how much of a carbon footprint does your dog have? A standard size SUV has a carbon footprint of just over an acre of land. A dog of medium stature has a footprint over twice the size of that SUV at about 2.1 acres. So if you have one of the larger breeds of dogs, you can count on quite a bit more.
Why Is Their Footprint So Large?
Now that you have digested the shocking facts, the next question on your mind is probably why. Dogs are carnivores, and they have a natural desire to eat meat. Dogs tend to consume even more meat than most people, who also eat grains, fruits, vegetables, and other items. Meats take more resources to produce in terms of land and energy. This raises the bar of the carbon footprint they make.
According to the New Scientist, cats and dogs have such a large carbon footprint because of their eating habits. A dog of average size in one year will eat over 360 pounds of meat. If you have a large dog, you can imagine how much more they consume. It takes over 1.6 miles to cultivate just over 2 pounds of chicken, so if you do the math, you may be shocked since the numbers for beef are considerably higher.
So the larger your dog, the larger of a carbon footprint they are going to have if you feed them a diet of exclusively meat. When you also take into account that over 71% of homes in America have at least one pet, the numbers say it all. More than 45% of American households have one or more dogs, with most owners having more than one, and a full 12 percent of all dog owners have three or more canine mouths to feed.
If you want to read more on dogs and their carbon footprints, read more at the website of ABC News.
So if you are an owner of a large dog or dogs, and you are environmentally-conscious, you may want to vary their diet off of meat just a bit to lessen their impact, or make other changes in your life so that you are part of the solution, and not just one of the sources of the problem.