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Anyone who witnesses dogs playing around and just being their carefree self bring out our love for them. And why shouldn’t they? Dogs are one of the cutest pets that offer unconditional love along with their companionship. Apart from being great pets to your family, they also have other benefits.
They include offering therapy and security. Moreover, dogs are trained to detect illnesses, making them a must at hospitals and clinics.
Another reason everyone loves dogs is their ability to stick along with us anywhere and everywhere. Whether it is the beach or a road trip, dogs ensure that they have fun throughout. In addition to all these things, hiking is one example where dogs accompany us. They offer us companionship on trails while also protecting us is just one of their selfless qualities.
While all these reasons are compelling enough to keep a dog with you, have you ever stopped to think about the environmental damages that your precious pet may be causing?
It may be absurd to think this, but pets can do more harm than good to the environment. So, before we list down some ways, let’s begin with how dogs can wreak havoc on the trail environment.
Trails are part of the natural ecosystem of a place. A typical trail includes a rich ecology of biodiversity made up of plants, animals, and even water resources. While they offer significant benefits to hikers due to topography, they should be considered a habitat on their own. Therefore, you should put in effort to conserve and protect hiking trails from any pollution, litter, and outside contamination.
Dogs may get aggressive or just curious if they come across an animal on the hiking trail. On the other hand, they may want to play with it, but this is not predictable. Due to their predatory nature, they may attack and hunt animals and bird species. This naturally results in biodiversity loss as these animals maintain the ecosystem. Moreover, a dog may be threatening to animal babies and even nests.
Aggressive to plants
Similarly, dogs may get curious if they see a plant or a bush. Given their playful nature, it may harm plant life unintentionally. They may bite, claw, or destroy a bud or a baby plant with their paws.
One major downside of bringing a dog on a hiking trail is it may deplete water reserves. While it is perfectly fine to drink from these water resources, dogs may poop in them. This harms marine life and even produces large amounts of algae on the water surface. Not only this, but dog poop on a hiking trail is generally dangerous because it may result in zoonotic diseases (diseases that transfer from pets to humans).
An effective way to counter this is first making sure the hiking trail allows dogs. If it does then, you should ensure that you follow all rules. The ‘leave no trace’ principle applies to your dog as much as it does to you. As such, make sure your dog has a leash on, so you have some control if it tries to damage a plant or scare away an animal. If you don’t want to leash on, make sure your dog understands and follows your command effectively.
An average-sized dog has a carbon footprint of 770kg per year. For a bigger dog, this number is even greater. One of the reasons for this is a dog’s diet. Since dogs are carnivores, they depend on red meat as a fulfilling source of protein. However, the red meat industry is one of the most damaging industries on the planet. They emit hefty tonnes of carbon emissions which cause the ozone layer to diminish.
Another subtle yet important issue that is often ignored is overpopulation. There are millions of stray dogs in the world that are not adopted and are admitted into shelters. They are an added burden on the environment as they need food, care, and grooming just like a pet dog would.
The entertainment industry for pets includes pet toys marketed effectively to lure you into buying the latest one. It is understandable why anyone wants to buy expensive and fun toys for their pets, but a simple plastic one also does the same job. Just think of the energy inputs it takes to produce one toy, and you may get an idea of the resulting carbon emissions.
The grooming industry for pets is also emerging as a fancy one. With a vast variety of shampoos, clippers, and trimmers, it is becoming difficult to choose. While there is no guarantee that these products are safe for animal use, they are undoubtedly creating negative environmental impacts. They may include ingredients that are sourced unethically or in a non-eco-friendly way.
Try to curtail your dog’s beef-based diet by switching to chicken or fish. Fish and chicken are some items that have fewer carbon emissions. Not only this, but you may want to look at neutering and spaying options, so there are no unwanted cats and dogs. Moreover, dog owners should try to adopt strays than buy their pets from expensive breeders. And as far as the problem of dog products is concerned, opt for companies that have a sustainable and eco-friendly business. This is not only beneficial for your dog, but it also has long-term advantages for Earth.
Initially, it comes as a shock that our furry friends may be one reason for environmental destruction. But just like everything else, they are capable of wreaking damage to the environment with their grooming, diet, and care. As dog owners, we are responsible for minimizing this damage by switching to green practices. The switch may be difficult at first but think of the long-term benefits, and it may motivate you.