The nutrition of dogs and cats has an impact on the environment. Different types of food, wet or dry, cause different greenhouse gas emissions. A team of researchers from the University of São Paulo in Brazil, led by Marco Brunetto, conducted a study on precisely this topic and determined which animal feed contributes the least to air pollution
Analysis of over 938 types of pet food
The researchers analyzed 618 types of food for dogs and 320 for cats, divided into different diets: dry and wet. The team of scientists then examined the 212 ingredients in the products. Finally, they estimated the environmental impact of each product, taking into account emissions of greenhouse gases, sulfur and phosphorus from production, land use and water use.
The results of the study
Research has shown that wet food has a much higher environmental impact than dry food. In particular, it has been estimated that a 10-pound dog burns an average of 534 calories per day. To meet its nutritional needs with crunchys, the environmental impact amounts to 828 kg of carbon emissions per year. When feeding with wet food, the load is 6,541 kg CO2, i.e. almost 8 times as much.
Why is dry food more sustainable than wet food?
The explanation for the lower environmental impact of dry food compared to wet food is given by various factors. First of all, dry food has a lower water content. However, what weighs more is the fact that in wet food 90% of the protein it contains is of animal origin, while in kibble it is 45%.
According to scientists, the solution to making the pet food sector more sustainable would be to use alternative proteins. For example, if one focuses on insects, it is estimated that the entire supply chain would have a 10x smaller impact. “It is necessary to consider the environmental impact of pet food – the researchers explain – because it is significant and the pet population tends to increase. This expansion in the pet population increases demand for pet products, including pet food.” Just consider that there are approximately 76.8 million dogs and 58.2 million domestic cats in the United States alone. Also among the top 3 countries in the world for having pets are Brazil (52.2 million dogs and 22.1 million cats) and China (27.3 million dogs and 53.1 million cats).