Shades of Green: Green Dog Food

In Columns, Opinion

If you’re a dog owner, your little pooch is doing more damage to this earth than a Toyota Sequoia guzzling gas from one freeway to the next.

Believe it or not, dogs are worse to the environment than SUVs, at least according to Robert and Brenda Vale, authors of “Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living,” in which they revealed that a medium-sized dog has twice the impact of driving a luxury SUV 10,000 miles.

Why? Because we are feeding our dogs pounds and pounds of carnivorous food, which takes a lot of land to provide. And seeing as there are more than 160 million owned dogs and cats in the United States, maybe we should start considering greener ways to raise our pets.

First off, despite the Vales’ estimations, dog food production is not at fault destroying cattle land. In fact, dog food could be considered a mode of recycling, seeing as all the spare meat parts that aren’t consumed by humans get ground up and made into kibbles and bits for our furry friends, who graciously gobble up everything we provide.

Little to our awareness, dog food provides a convenient way for slaughterhouses to make money off wastes considered “unfit for human consumption,” according to Born Free USA. This waste includes intestines, udders, heads, hooves and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.

So, as you are feeding happy-go-lucky Sparky some lamb heads and infected pig intestines, you might also like to know that pet food manufacturers do not test their products for bacterial endotoxins.

Because sick or dead animals can be processed as pet foods, the drugs that were used to treat or euthanize them may still be present in the end product. The presence of these toxins, including penicillin and various antibiotics, are increasing your dog’s risk of attaining urinary tract disease, chronic digestive problems and obesity.

About 45 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. That means you, as a pet owner, are at fault for Fido’s ecological damage. You are the one choosing the food he will eat, and you are the one overfilling the dog bowl every day, once a day.

Just like humans, dogs need to eat several small meals. That means only filling the bowl halfway two to three times a day. And seeing as Scruffy isn’t going to head over to Ralph’s and choose his preferred dietary brand, you are responsible for steering clear of dog foods that might be made of meat “byproducts,” which is a euphemism for heads, feet, blood, fat trimmings, unborn babies and other parts usually not consumed by humans.

Instead, shoot for organic or natural brands of chow, those that avoid pesticides, artificial colors, flavor enhancers, chemical fertilizers and chemical preservatives.

Green pet foods are produced from free-range, lean meat and poultry and don’t contain such unmentionable meat byproducts.
Although your dog may happily inhale any type of food in one gulp without any signs of preferring organic over a standard brand, he won’t be so happy as he is dying from acute renal failure, which killed 20 percent of dogs who ate Purina, Iams and other such brands in 2007.

So, in this case, it might be well worth the extra buck or two to go organic, for Fido’s sake.

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