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7. Little People, Big Problem - Pets

Change Fido's diet to cut 1 tonne of CO2e from your carbon pawprint each year

There are more pets than people in Australia, with the average Australian household owning 1.3 dogs. Dogs are part of my family and I can't imagine a world without them, but they generate a lot of carbon dioxide and equivalent emissions (CO2e). They don't catch planes, burn coal-fired energy or buy fast fashion (unless you let them use Etsy) but they can eat a lot of meat.

I ran six scenarios for feeding a medium-sized dog. The lowest generated 360 kilograms of CO2e each year. The highest generated ten times that at 3.9 tonnes. It was worse for the environment and no healthier for the dog. What a waste!

If you own a dog, you could save a tonne or more of CO2e each year with some of these steps.

- Avoid beef and lamb. Instead, feed plant foods, eggs and a small amount of chicken, duck, kangaroo or rabbit.

- Pick a "complete and balanced" pet food that lists vegetables or grains as the first ingredient, not meat (and especially not beef or lamb).

- Consider a "complete and balanced" vegan pet food for some or all of the time.

- Choose vegan or low-meat treats.

- Choose new pets with care. Would you be as happy with a smaller animal or with fewer animals? A lamb-fed pug will emit less than a chicken-eating giant.

THIS IS THE SEVENTH OF TEN INSTALLATIONS AT 'ART, NOT APART 2019'.
CAN YOU FIND NINE MORE HIDDEN AROUND THE FESTIVAL?

Lego kindly on loan from The Green Shed.

Data and sources are here. See also Blog Post for Week Five.

A note on vegan pets

There's limited data on pure veganism for dogs (although this vegan feeding trial on sled dogs looks promising). There's even less about vegan cats. My vet opposed veganism so we compromised with a vegan pet food kibble for breakfast and a home-made low-meat dinner, which we cook up once each fortnight and freeze. The dogs thrive on this. It may not suit growing puppies or sick pets. Always talk to your vet before making major changes.

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