There’s a rising awareness about the environmental impact of owning a dog—including concerns around whether their food is sustainably sourced.
Many pet parents are taking steps to lessen their “carbon pawprint”, leading to a demand for more sustainable dog food options.
Let’s take a look at what makes sustainable dog food different, as well as which earth-loving brands might be right for your pup.
Here’s what we’ll discuss:
- The environmental impact of pet food
- What it means for dog food to be “sustainable”
- Sustainable dog food brands we love
- Pros and cons of feeding your pup sustainable dog food
What’s the environmental impact of pet food?
Because of the scale of the pet food industry, each stage of the supply chain—from raw material extraction and farming to manufacturing, distribution, and waste management—can have serious implications for the environment. According to a 2022 report, the global dog food market is predicted to reach sales worth $82 billion by 2026.
Here’s some ways conventional kibble impacts our planet:
- Increased carbon footprint: Meat-based pet food is especially carbon-intensive, because of the emissions linked to livestock farming
- Overfishing: Fish-based pet food can put even more stress on already fragile marine ecosystems
- Use of natural resources: Lots of water, land, and energy go into making pet food
- Chemical pollution: Harmful chemicals from farming practices and manufacturing are sometimes released into the environment
- Waste: Traditional pet food packaging—which is often a mix of plastic, foil, and paper—usually isn’t recyclable, which contributes to landfill waste
- Biodiversity loss: Mass farming and fishing to support pet food production can impact, and even destroy, habitats—like deforestation
What does it mean for dog food to be “sustainable”?
Sustainable dog food is made in a way that minimizes negative impacts on the environment, animals, and people. It often uses eco-friendly, high-quality ingredients and aims to reduce carbon emissions and waste.
Wondering how you can tell if dog food is actually sustainable? Check the company’s sustainability reports, which get into detail about their supply chain and business practices. And look for certifications like:
- B Corps
- Climate Neutral Certified
- 1% for the Planet
- Pet Sustainability Coalition
- Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), for foods that include fish
- Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, for foods that include animal products
- Global Animal Partnership, for foods that include animal products
- Certified Humane, for foods that include animal products
- USDA Organic
- Non-GMO Project
Keep in mind: There are lots of dog diet trends out there that might claim to be the image of sustainability—like human-grade, raw, organic, vegan, and grain-free foods. But “sustainable” can mean different things to different companies, so it’s critical to dig a little deeper into their actual practices.
Sustainable dog food brands we love
While this is far from an exhaustive list, we’ve collected some of our favorite dog food brands that strive to do their part for the planet.
Full disclosure: We aren’t partnered or sponsored by these brands, we just think they’re awesome.
- Castor & Pollux
- Farmer’s Dog
- Nature’s Recipe
- Open Farm
- Pet Plate
- Portland Pet Food Company
- Stella & Chewy’s
- The Honest Kitchen
- Wild Earth
Pros and cons of feeding your pup sustainable dog food
There are several potential benefits to switching your pup to sustainable dog food, but there are also some important considerations to keep in mind. Here’s a rundown of the broad pros and cons, though of course you’ll need to evaluate each pet food company on its own merits.
- Often has a lower carbon footprint and fewer emissions from manufacturing compared to a conventional pet food
- Uses ethical practices to support animal welfare and responsible farming and fishing
- Typically richer in essential amino acids, probiotics, and high-quality protein sources—without fillers or by-products—contributing to better overall health for your dog
- Less likely to contain artificial preservatives, colors, and pesticides, offering a cleaner diet for your pet
- Many of these companies use low-emission processing techniques—like freeze-drying or dehydrating food
- Usually use recycled, recyclable, or compostable packaging, and some even partner with recycling companies to ensure their packaging doesn’t end up in the landfill
- These companies are more likely to provide detailed information about their supply chain, sourcing, and sustainable practices
- May still rely on resource-intensive materials or processes in some aspects of production or packaging
- May require a transitional period for your dog, and the use of uncommon or novel ingredients could trigger food sensitivities in some dogs
- Lack of artificial preservatives means these foods have a shorter shelf life, so you’ll need to purchase them more often
- Can be more expensive to make than conventional dog food, which translates into a higher price point
- Some dogs may be pickier eaters and might not immediately enjoy the taste
- There’s a risk of “greenwashing,” where companies might make misleading claims about their environmental practices. Don’t trust just any marketing lingo, check the labels for third-party certifications like the ones we mention above
Buying sustainable pet food can be a great step towards becoming a net-zero dog parent. But make sure the food also meets your pup’s unique nutritional requirements based on their breed, size, age, and any special dietary needs. Always consult with your vet before switching up your pooch’s food.
Before we go…
Choosing to buy sustainable dog food is one way pet parents can offer their pet nutritious food, while also being responsible stewards of the planet.
But there are so many other ways to reduce your carbon pawprint too—like picking up your dog’s poop and properly disposing of it, or covering your pooch with pet insurance with a company that refuses to invest in fossil fuels and gives back to several environmental causes (we’re talking about Lemonade).
Ready to start your free quote? Click the button below.
A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage and discounts may not be available in all states.