Summer often inspires balmy evening excursions, busy day trips, and extended family getaways. With so much rostered on the social calendar, it’s important not to let your pets’ needs fall by the wayside. So, it’s time to take stock of summer pet necessities and consider how you can care for your furry and feathered friends in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.
Jessica Joosse, a Royal Canin registered veterinary nurse and animal nutritionist, says the season brings unique health challenges for pets.
“As many pets will enter boarding kennels and catteries while owners go on holidays, it is important your pets are up to date with their vaccinations. With heavy rain seen in many areas, it’s also strongly recommended that all pets are treated with tick and flea prevention.”
If you’re looking to make your pet routine greener over the summer, here are a few eco-friendly pet care tips.
1. Consider your pet’s food
Jessica recommends pet owners look for pet foods that are formulated based on nutrients, rather than solely considering higher priced ingredients to signify quality and environmental impact.
“Pet foods that use highly nutritious organ meats can be considered a sustainable option, as these meats are often not utilised in the human food chain and may otherwise be discarded.”
Overfeeding animals also has implications for your pet-loving household’s environmental footprint. “It means we must use more resources and produce more than we would otherwise need to,” Jessica says. “Always check with your vet or the feeding guide on the pet food packaging to ensure you’re feeding your pet the correct amount.”
And while sneaking your pup scraps from the holiday dinner table may seem harmless, it can have considerable health impacts.
“Something that seems small to us can be adding excessive calories to our pets’ diets. Instead of giving them human food from your plate, have some pet-safe treats set aside for mealtimes.”
2. Recycle pet products with TerraCycle
Sustainability in the pet food space doesn’t end at the ingredient list. Jessica says owners should investigate whether or not “all activities involved in the production, transport and waste of pet food is sustainable and socially responsible.”
Many pet food brands are making commitments to include more sustainably-sourced ingredients in their products, move towards carbon neutral transportation and production, and reduce waste. You can often find information around a business’s environmental goals and progress on their websites or in annual reports.
TerraCycle works with brands to run dozens of free recycling programs across Australia and New Zealand for rubbish that isn’t accepted through kerbside recycling systems. When it comes to pet waste, you can recycle any brand of packaging for wet or dry cat and dog food through the Royal Canin Recycling Program in Australia and New Zealand. It’s free and easy to use – simply search for a participating veterinary clinic or retail store near you via the program page and drop off your empty pet food packaging for recycling.
If you use Open Farm cat or dog food in Australia, you can also recycle the packaging for free by mailing it directly to TerraCycle. And if you’re keen to recycle even more pet products, including old and broken toys, leashes, brushes, bowls and bedding, you can fund the process yourself by purchasing a Pet Products Zero Waste Box.
3. Keep cool together
Every kind of critter can suffer from heatstroke just like humans, so it’s important to always ensure your pet has ample water and shade, as well as access to the indoors if possible.
“Pets can’t tell us when they are getting too hot and may not realise they are becoming heat-stressed until it is too late,” Jessica says. “Over summer you should keep them inside during the heat of the day, and when possible under air-conditioning.”
Blasting the aircon all summer long isn’t ideal if you’re trying to minimise your energy consumption, but you can strike a more sustainable balance. Rather than setting the aircon at an icy level, keep it at a consistent milder temperature (ideally at 23 degrees celsius or higher) so humans and pets stay comfortable without driving up your usage and bills.
Cutting the aircon overnight or switching to fans can also help manage your electricity usage over the summer. If you’re able to elect the energy provider for your household, consider a carbon-neutral option. Or, go the extra mile and install renewable energy generators in your home.
4. Keep them hydrated and happy with eco-friendly accessories
When you need to replenish your pet accessories, look for pet toys made from recycled materials and plastic-free feeding and water bowls. And while you’re out on a summer dog walk – preferably in the cool of the early morning or evening – Jessica suggests packing a water bowl and toys housing frozen pet treats or veggies. Hiding frozen snacks in a dog treat dispenser is also a great summer enrichment activity for pups at home, while a lick mat with frozen or chilled wet food is a great way to keep your feline cool and entertained.
Find even more solutions for recycling complex rubbish that builds up over the summer.