What is sustainability?

Sustainability is defined as the “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” We all know how important sustainability is and minimising our environmental impact to maintain an ecological balance is high on our list of priorities for many of us. By choosing sustainable options we can collectively do our bit to support the planet, as well as our communities. The same goes for choices we make for our dogs too. However, knowing which choices are genuinely sustainable can be hard to differentiate. Let’s look into a few different elements which affect dog food sustainability.  

What do dog foods do to be sustainable?

Currently, claims of sustainability are everywhere, as companies following the sustainability trend. The measures that companies take to make their dog food sustainable can vary from using recyclable packaging or making their food suitable to store in the cupboard so refrigeration isn’t required throughout the distribution chain. They can be using only local UK ingredient suppliers or could be avoiding meat ingredients altogether to lower their environmental impact, and many measures in between.

Protein sources

As Earth’s population grows ensuring the capacity to grow nutritious food to feed us all is a concern and something which there is a huge amount of focus on worldwide. Improving the efficiencies of food production goes along way to feeding a greater proportion of the population.

An element of this is, which sources of protein are the most sustainable to produce? Those protein sources which require smaller amounts of resources to produce are valuable to not only going further to feeding the growing population, but also on their effect upon the environment. This is where plant-based foods and insect ingredients come in. These sources of protein take only a fraction of the resources to produce compared to meat and are nutritious protein sources.

Meat and sustainability

You will no doubt have seen the statistics around the higher levels of resources required to rear animals and produce meat when compared to plant sources of protein and nutrition.

Traditionally, dog foods used meat ingredients which were good quality and safe but did not compete much with the human food chain, and therefore the sustainability of these meat ingredients was increased. When organ meats, for example, are used they provide a great source of nutrition for dogs and are ingredients which would not usually be chosen by people either. In more recent times, this is not always the case. As the demand for “human grade” ingredients and muscle meats increased there is a larger cross over of meat for people and for dog food.

Do dogs need meat?

Our dogs, like us, have a requirement for nutrients which are needed for them to stay healthy, not for foods or ingredients. If nutrients are provided in the quantities required, and in a way which is accessible to be absorbed from the digestive system, the food or ingredient which delivers the nutrients is unimportant for keeping your dog healthy. Your dog has a nutritional requirement for the building blocks of proteins, but whether these are delivered through meat, or a plant or insect ingredient, the nutritional requirement can be met.

The most important consideration is that your dog’s diet is complete and balanced. This means that the diet contains all of the nutrients they need, and in the quantities they need, to stay healthy.

What dog food should I choose?

Dogs, like us, are individuals. Some types of food or ingredients suit some better than others. For dogs with sensitivities food using insects as a novel protein can mean them receiving a balanced diet without triggering their individual signs of sensitivity. They can become an option for your dog with sensitive digestion, or even an option to rotate into your dog’s diet for variety. The same can be said of plant-based foods.

There are many choices for your dog’s food, from the type of food they enjoy, to whether it’s dry, wet, raw, or somewhere in between. There are sustainability elements to consider too, from the ingredients, processing facility, carbon pawprint, recyclability and more.

You can speak to the companies producing your dog’s food and ask to know more about the measures they are taking to make their products more sustainable, the ingredients they use and even the nutrient availability to your dog. Now you understand more about the options you have in finding solutions which suit you and your dog best.