Carbon pawprint: is man’s best friend the planet’s enemy?

While the precise carbon pawprint of our pets is the source of scientific debate, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: lovable, they may be, cats and dogs have an impact on the planet.

In their 2009 book “Time to Eat the Dog?”, Brenda and Robert Vale sparked anger among pet owners for saying that the meat eaten by an average canine companion had double the carbon footprint as driving a sports utility vehicle 10,000 kilometers.

More than a decade on, the verdict is still out on the planetary impact linked to the diets of cats and dogs.

In a 2017 study, Gregory Okin, a professor at the University of California’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability, estimated that the 160 million domestic cats and dogs in the US were responsible for up to 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumed in the country.

That’s 64 million tonnes of C02, equivalent to the annual emissions of 13 million petrol or diesel cars.

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