Over the past several years, many of us have become more focused on the food we put in our bodies and whether that food is sustainable, organic, and natural.
But we might not consider whether our dog’s diet is, too. It’s just as important for dogs to eat a healthy diet that’s good for the environment, as pet food has a bigger negative impact on our world than you might think.
Today, we'll break down what sustainability looks like when it comes to pet food. Be sure to stick around for the end, where we'll recommend five sustainable dog foods for your pet to try!
What Does It Mean to Be Truly Sustainable?
The simple definition of “sustainability” is something capable of being sustained long term. A sustainable view focuses on using resources widely, recognizing that they are not infinite.
UCLA explains that sustainability balances the environment, equity, and the economy. Sustainability should meet our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, too. Sustainable practices support:
- Ecological health
- Human health
- Economic health
Pets and pet food have a big impact on the environment — one that’s not necessarily positive. According to CNN, producing pet food creates massive amounts of greenhouse gas. And because many pet diets are heavy in meat (cats and dogs undertake 25-30% of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the U.S.), your pet’s “carbon pawprint” is even bigger. A 2017 study discovered that the process of feeding dogs and cats makes around 64 million tons of carbon dioxide in the U.S. each year. This equals out to the same impact as 13.6 million cars on the road.
These aren’t the only issues concerning pet food and sustainability. The Pet Sustainability Coalition states that 300 million pounds of pet food and treat bags are created in the U.S. every year. Over 99% of those bags are not recycled.
So, what's the bottom line?
While our pets have to eat, the process of feeding them has a definite negative environmental impact. And this is why it’s important to be conscious about the pet food company you choose.
More and more companies are beginning to implement sustainable practices, and this includes pet food brands. A sustainable dog food company cares about more than just profit; it also tries to lower its environmental impact and create a more ethical supply chain from start to finish, putting its values into practice.
Some brands opt to pursue a sustainability certification to prove their commitment to the environment. A few popular certifications for businesses going green and fighting climate change include:
As pet owners start to become more aware of their environmental impact, more and more consumers are opting for environmentally friendly dog food. One market research firm discovered that pet products labeled as “certified humane raised and handled,” “ethical,” or “cruelty-free” are increasing in sales. This growing demand leads pet brands to carefully examine their business processes and practices.
Why The Honest Kitchen Is A Sustainable Pet Food Brand
At The Honest Kitchen, we strive for sustainability — from the way we source ingredients to the type of partners we bring on. We recognize that “sustainable” is a subjective term. But we do the most we can to reduce our negative impact on the environment and the communities we serve through our careful sourcing and packaging—and it’s one of the key reasons we’re considered a Certified B Corporation. This makes us more sustainable than alternative options in the pet food industry, which may not put as much effort into these areas.
We believe that good food goes further than simply addressing pet health. We go beyond the bowl with carefully sourced ingredients and thoughtful production methods to support minority suppliers, protect the environment, and generate resources that are used responsibly to support internal and external workers. Here are a few ways we do this:
- Choosing local suppliers to minimize the carbon footprint associated with transportation
- Consolidating purchases from our raw ingredient supply partners to minimize the environmental impact of freight
- Choosing product ingredients grown in Europe, where most member states have partially or fully banned GMOs
One-hundred percent of the produce we buy is confirmed by the supplier as non-genetically modified, and in 2021, 11% were certified organic ingredients. We also buy fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to meet a sustainable fishing standard, and chicken that is Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Certified Humane (free range chickens with no antibiotics or growth hormones).
What’s more, we try to choose suppliers that protect wildlife habitats, reduce pesticide usage, and operate environmental programs. And we haven’t overlooked our packaging, either: Currently, 63% of our packaging is made from renewable materials and is fully recyclable after use.
Why is this so important? For one thing, natural, human grade ingredients are better for your dog’s health. It’s also important for all of us as consumers to support animal welfare and use recycled materials wherever possible. Purchasing sustainable food for your dog is one way to help the environment and create a better world for all of us — and our wonderful pets!
To learn more about our sustainability efforts, read our Impact Report.
5 Sustainable Dog Foods To Try (and Why)
Sustainable pet food can benefit both the health of your pet, and the health of our environment. Our dehydrated foods tend to be a more sustainable pet food option than other pet food formats, as they are compact (a 10 lb box rehydrates into 40 lbs of food), use FSC certified cardboard packaging, and their square shape makes them efficient to ship. Here are five sustainable dehydrated foods to try from The Honest Kitchen.
1) Dehydrated Whole Grain Chicken
Our high protein Dehydrated Whole Grain Chicken dog food is made with real, whole-food ingredients (like free-range chicken) that are gently dehydrated to maintain their nutrients and taste. The chicken we buy is GAP-Certified Humane, meaning free-range with no antibiotics or growth hormones.
We make this recipe in a U.S.-based human food facility, so it’s 100% human grade. Plus, you won’t find any artificial preservatives, feed-grade by-products, fillers, GMO ingredients, corn, wheat, or soy in this product.
Why We Love This Food
Chicken is the first ingredient in this mouthwatering dog food. Other notable ingredients include organic barley, dehydrated potatoes, flaxseed, organic oats, dehydrated peas, dehydrated carrots, dried parsley, and dried bananas. This dog food is a good source of protein and fiber, and it’s ideal for both puppies and adult dogs.
“Even my fussy dogs love it. My finicky shih tzus eat this right up!” said one customer. Another review reads, “It has a lot of good nutrition and my pup never seems to have any digestive problems when she eats this, or switches from the dry to the dehydrated chicken or turkey.”
2) Dehydrated Whole Grain Turkey
The Dehydrated Whole Grain Turkey is a similar dog food option with a different protein. Like all of our pet food, it’s manufactured in a human food facility, making it 100% human grade. It doesn't contain any artificial preservatives, feed-grade by-products, fillers, GMO ingredients, corn, wheat, or soy. The turkey used in this recipe is also cage-free.
Why We Love This Food
This recipe is packed with turkey, an excellent lean source source and a good source of riboflavin (vitamin B2) and phosphorus to support your dog’s energy and calcium production. The flavorful turkey pairs with ingredients like organic oats, dehydrated potatoes, flaxseed, dehydrated carrots, dehydrated cabbage, dried apples, dehydrated honey, dried organic kelp, and dried garlic (plus plenty of vitamins and minerals) to make your dog’s mouth water. Our whole-grain turkey food is intended for adult dogs.
Customers love it, too: “This food has made my dog’s life so much better,” says one reviewer. “I can’t imagine giving him anything else. He has kidney disease, so the low protein is perfect for him. I just add some veggie mix and brown rice, and he’s the healthiest dog on earth operating on half a kidney. He’s in great shape and living his best life!”
3) Dehydrated Whole Grain Beef
We partnered with veterinary nutritionists to create our Dehydrated Whole Grain Beef, a more affordable option that’s ideal for adult dogs. We apply the same uncompromising quality control and sustainability standards to this recipe that we use on all of our products. This dog food includes real ingredients like ranch-raised beef that we gently dehydrate to maintain that savory taste your dog loves.
Why We Love This Food
Ranch raised beef isn’t the only high-quality ingredient in this pet food. You’ll also find extra vitamins, minerals, and delicious foods like organic oats, organic barley, flaxseed, dehydrated potatoes, dehydrated carrots, dehydrated eggs, dried apples, dried parsley, dried cranberries, and dehydrated spinach. Packed full of nutrition and flavor, what’s not to love?
The eggs in this recipe add extra protein to pair alongside the beef, which is also a good source of iron, vitamin B12, and zinc. This recipe also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids through the flaxseed..
4) Whole Grain Veggie & Fruit Dog Food Base
This Whole Grain Veggie & Fruit Dog Food Base can also be combined with any of our other meat-based dog foods. Or add your own source of protein to create a delicious homemade meal. This mix is great for raw feeders and home cooks who want to ensure they meet their dog’s nutritional needs. It’s also good for adult and senior dogs who might be experiencing meat sensitivities.
Why We Love This Food
Ingredients in this base mix include organic oats, flaxseed, organic barley, organic quinoa, dehydrated pumpkin, dehydrated carrots, dehydrated parsnips, dried apples, dried cranberries, dehydrated green beans, dehydrated broccoli, dehydrated kale, dried organic kelp, and extra added vitamins and minerals.
You might be familiar with quinoa — a gluten-free seed that’s widely considered a whole grain — in your own diet. It’s safe for dogs, too. Kibble recipes often use corn, wheat, or soy. Quinoa is a healthy alternative. Our whole-grain base also includes flaxseed, organic barley, and organic oats. Oats are another alternative carbohydrate the AKC recommends for dogs who are sensitive to wheat or grains.
5) Dehydrated Grain Free Fish
Our final recommendation for sustainable dog food is our Dehydrated Grain Free Fish option. Full of wild-caught fish and other whole food ingredients, this high-quality dog food is 100% worth it for anyone who wants to keep their dog healthy and happy. Like all of our dog foods, your only job is to mix with warm water and wait three minutes. Then your pup can dive in.
Why We Love This Food
In this sustainable dog food, dehydrated white fish, dehydrated sweet potatoes, dehydrated eggs, dehydrated pumpkin, dried organic coconut, dried bananas, dried apples, dehydrated cabbage, dried parsley, dried cranberries, dehydrated salmon, and dried garlic pair to create a rich flavor profile and impressive list of nutrients.
Fish has health benefits including omega-3 fatty acids; vitamins D and B2; calcium; phosphorus; and all kinds of minerals, such as zinc, which protects your dog from infection by boosting their immune system. Plus, your pup is getting vitamin A from the sweet potatoes, fiber from the pumpkin, antioxidants from the cranberries, and so much more.
Here’s what one customer has to say about why they love this recipe: “I have chosen this food for my dogs because it has no processed vegetable oils like canola, it has fish instead of fish oil, it has two protein sources, it is grain free and legume free, and uses tubers, fruits, and veggies for the carbs. And being a dehydrated powder that you wet makes it less processed, easier to digest, and less dehydrating when compared to kibble. My dogs love it as well!”
Try The Honest Kitchen’s Sustainable Dog Foods Today
Better for the environment, better for your dog, and even better for you — it’s clear why switching to sustainable dog food is so important. Choosing a dog food brand like The Honest Kitchen that takes sustainability seriously can help you (and your four-legged friend) reduce your environmental impact.
Sustainable options don’t have to sacrifice flavor — or quality. Check out The Honest Kitchen’s full list of natural, dehydrated dog foods that your pet will love!