Tuesday 22 August 2023
Becoming a More Ethical Dog Owner
They’re man’s (and woman’s) best friend. They’re our constant companions in life. Their unconditional
adoration can see us through the worst of times while their infectious zeal for life can make the best
of times even better. Let’s face it… Dogs are awesome. They give so much to us and ask so very little
in return. It’s only right, then, that we want to do the best by our four-legged friends and the planet as
a whole. Ethics are playing more and more of a part in our lifestyles these days. After all, how could
they not? In the digital era, we’re more aware than ever. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the
impact that the decisions we make as consumers can have on the world around us and the other
people and creatures that we share it with.
Today, we view everything from the food we eat to how we dispose of our trash through the prism of
ethics. The way in which we adopt, feed and look after our pets is no exception. If you love dogs, here
are some ways in which you can love them even more while taking better care of them and the planet
you both share…
The ethics of pet store pups
It goes without saying that there are some ethical pitfalls to be found when finding the perfect place to
adopt your new furry companion. For starters, you should never ever buy a puppy from a pet store.
Most puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills. While puppy mills don’t necessarily have
negligent or cruel practices (although some do), their very nature is inherently problematic. In order to
operate profitably, puppy mills need to churn out thousands and thousands of new pups every year.
This can only exacerbate problems with homelessness and socialization. What’s more, puppies bred
at puppy mills are more predisposed to psychological and behavioral problems.
Breeders with heart
You should also do your homework when choosing a breeder. According to the American Humane
Society the name breeder can be applied to pretty much anyone who pairs two dogs together. A little
research can go a long way. Take this example of a breeder who raises labrador puppies as a
template for what you should look for. The page positively radiates love for the breed and the
individual pups. The breeder also offers puppy training schools and will rehome your pup if you are no
longer able to take care of it, helping to reduce the number of dogs in shelters.
If you can adopt from a shelter, however, this is the ethical gold standard. If you are able, you should
consider adopting an older adult dog. These sweet natured creatures often lose their homes through
no fault of their own and are well trained with a good temperament.
Think before you feed
What you feed your dog can play a huge part in determining not only your dog’s health but the ethical
cost of your pet ownerships. For both reasons, it’s best to avoid the biggest commercially available
dog food brands. Most of these earned their ubiquity through clever marketing not the quality of the
product. Many brands, especially cheaper brands, use incredibly poor quality meat that is deemed
unfit for human consumption as well as chemicals which are known carcinogens. Always do your
homework on a pet food brand before giving them your money.
Remember, too, that animal agriculture carries an enormous ethical and environmental cost. Feeding
your dog a diet that is mostly, or even entirely, comprised of vegetables and cereals can make dog
ownership a whole lot more ethical. Remember that there ability to digest vegetable starches is one of
the few things that separates your dog from its lupine ancestors. There’s evidence to suggest that dog
s can thrive on an entirely plant based diet. Check out this recipe for home made doggie treats.
Harness the power of your pooch
By all means give your furry pal a collar, but make sure that it’s for identification purposes, only. A
leash and collar is perhaps the least comfortable way for your dog to enjoy walkies. Instead, consider
investing in a harness for your beloved pet. This distributes the force more evenly when they are
walking, so that even if they’re over excited and straining against the leash, they won’t be
Your poop, your problem!
Finally, while none of us relish picking up our pooch’s noxious “offerings” when we take them for a walk,
we owe it to our communities to tidy up after them. Dog poop can breed harmful organisms like
campylobacter which can be harmful to any humans that tread or fall in it. You don’t even have to
contribute to the growing problem of plastic waste to attend to the matter. Just use biodegradable dog