Wet dog and cat food is far more environmentally damaging than dry food, a new study has found.
Scientists at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil found that feeding your pet a meat-based wet diet results in eight times more climate-heating emissions than dry food, giving dogs the same carbon footprint as humans.
The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, analysed the impact of dry, wet, and homemade pet diets on greenhouse gas emission, land use, acidifying emission, eutrophying emissions, freshwater withdrawals, and stress-weighted water use. The team looked at 618 different diets for dogs and 320 for cats, including wet food in cans, pouches, biscuits and kibble.
As the population of dogs continues to grow, demand for pet food will only continue to surge. According to the findings, pet foods are rich in ingredients of animal origin, which is known to be responsible for higher gas emissions and land use.
“The wet diets were responsible for the highest impact, and dry diets were the type of diet that least impacted the environment, with a positive correlation between the metabolisable energy provided by animal ingredients and the environmental impact,” explained the scientists in the study.
“It is necessary to consider the environmental impact of pet food since it is significant, and the population of pets tends to increase.”
While there is no single strategy to improve sustainability, suggestions to promote more eco-friendly pet food include the use of alternative protein sources, such as insects.
The scientists added: “Many factors can influence the sustainability of food, including ingredient choice, ingredient composition, digestibility, and percentage of ingredient inclusion. Sometimes the ingredient choice is made taking into consideration consumer demand instead of only nutritional composition, which can lead to ingredients that compete directly with human diets.”