a (nearly) zero waste dog

We adopted our sweet girl last June from a great locally-based rescue called Save Our Scruff. She is a Belgian Malinois cross from a shelter in Mexico and the snuggliest dog of all time. Jazz is a member of our family and of course we try to keep it low waste with her as well, but it can be tricky. We do what we can with what we have available to us, which also includes time and money.

Food and Treats

Food can be either the easiest or most challenging aspect of living low waste with a dog. Depending on their diet (and your budget) you may have some wiggle room when it comes to eliminating waste in this area. Every dog has different needs and nutritional requirements, so be sure to check with your vet before altering your pup’s diet or introducing new foods. Some general tips:

  • Buy kibble in bulk (if available in your area) in reusable bags.
  • Ask for meat in your own container at the butcher (if feeding a raw diet).
  • Buy the largest bags available (both kibble and raw) and reuse the bags for trash when empty. We use our kibble bags for the litter we pick up on walks around our neighbourhood.
  • Aim for the most responsibly and sustainably sourced foods possible within your budget. Avoid brands owned by major polluters (for example, Purina is owned by Nestlé.)
  • Bulk treats seem to be easier to come by than kibble. Our local bulk shop and pet shops have lots of options available to purchase in your own reusable bags. Pet stores in our area also have a great selection of unpackaged/unwrapped bones, antlers, etc.
  • Make your own treats! I have compiled a few recipes here.

Accessories

Again, this will depend on what kind of dog you have and how you co-exist in your space. Believe it or not, probably everything you need for your pup probably already exists and is available secondhand or you already have it! FB Marketplace and Buy Nothing are another great way to find whatever bits and bobs you might need. If you need to buy something new, please support local independent retailers over big box pet supply stores.

  • Our leash, bowls, and grooming tools we already had on hand from when our old boy died a few years ago.
  • Steer clear of chew toys that are easily destroyed and invest in edible or long-lasting versions.
  • Make toys from old fabrics, especially denim. Some no-sew ideas can be found here.
  • We use old towels for baths, muddy paws, and uh…messes. Just pop them in the washing machine and reuse them until you can’t anymore.
  • Our crate (required by the rescue for the fostering period) was purchased secondhand in our community on Kijiji.

Poop

There’s no way around it…we have to talk about it! Unless you are pretty rural and don’t mind letting nature take its course (away from waterways), you *have to* deal with dog poop. Depending on where you live, you have options. Pick and choose what might work for you.

  • Throw it out. If you do not have a yard or access to compost, you don’t have much choice but to pick it up. This is a good use of the plastic bags that come into your life. They are trash anyway, so you might as well use them to both care for your dog and be a good citizen.
  • Compost it! If you have curbside pickup, check with your municipality as to whether pet waste is accepted. Please follow their guidelines as to how this waste must be collected. Our town requires “bio-degradable” bags, which is a whole other quagmire! But we do what is asked of us and use these bags which are vegetable-based.
  • Compost at home! Create a separate compost pit or dedicated vermicomposter (worms!) for dog waste. If you decide on a pit, please contact your municipality regarding permits or wastewater rules where applicable. Do NOT mix dog waste in with your regular outdoor compost pile or use it in your garden beds, especially food gardens.

Because we have municipal compost pickup that allows pet waste, that is what we currently do. I am still researching the options for home composting, hoping to find a feasible option for our yard size and yearly weather conditions.


One final note – please do not worry about waste that comes from the vet. Heartworm and tick prevention, prescriptions or what have you – health *always* comes before zero waste!

How do you keep it low waste with your doggo? Share your tips and ideas in the comments!

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