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Plenty of scientific evidence tells us that humans need to do a better job taking care of our planet. But what about dogs, though?

There are almost 90 million pet dogs in the United States, which is more than twice the human population of California. (Side note: If a dog state existed, it would be called Barkansas, right?).

It’s really important to make sure all those pups are making a positive impact in the world and doing right by Mother Earth. Here are some friendly suggestions on how to make sure your doggo is being a good global citizen.

This dog wants to help you with your food waste problem. Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash.
  • Food

In the United States, we’re notoriously bad about wasting food—the Environmental Protection Agency says wasted food takes up the most space in our landfills. I bet your dog will help lessen your environmental footprint here by intercepting your table scraps before they hit the trash. (Do check with your vet to see what people food is OK to feed your dog).

Even if you’re not comfortable sharing your plate with your pup, your dog might already be helping. The meaty parts of most commercial dog food are made from the animal parts that we don’t generally eat, like the organs.

When you’re buying dog food, be mindful of the packaging. Buying in bulk will minimize the amount of packaging that ends up in the landfill.

  • Poop

First of all, I know it’s not fun, but it’s just good manners to pick up after your dog. But it’s more than that—leaving dog waste unattended can contaminate waterways and also spread diseases to other dogs or sometimes even people.

To make sure you’re disposing of it properly, pick up your dog’s waste with a biodegradable poop bag and throw it away or find a company with flushable bags and take care of it at home.

Alternatively, you can compost your pet’s poop, but make sure you are using a pet-waste composter, and don’t use it to fertilize food crops.

Make sure you find toys that are good for your dog's health and the environment. And that are good pillows, too, if you can. Photo by Samuel Foster on Unsplash.
  • Toys

Plastic toys aren't great in the environment or your dog's intestines. Try to find toys that are safe for the health of your dog and the planet.

  • Flea & Tick

While it’s important to make sure your dog isn’t plagued with pests, some flea and tick medications might not be that safe for canines or humans. The Natural Resources Defense Council put together a helpful directory to guide you when choosing flea and tick treatments.

  • Shots

Vaccines are obviously important to keep your dog and the dogs around her healthy. But it’s also important to protect the wildlife around you. The canine distemper virus, for example, has spread from dogs to foxes, raccoons, ferrets—and even seals and lions. The endangered Siberian tiger population has been furthered stressed from the virus as well. So get those shots, and don’t introduce your dog to tigers.

Do not let your dog infringe on the rights of others, even if he looks happy doing it. Photo by Christal Yuen on Unsplash.
  • Training

It’s never a bad thing to introduce some manners into your pup’s life. Beginning obedience training is available from a variety of places—just make sure you sign up for a training where you and your dog are learning together. Training facilities associated with the American Kennel Club sometimes offer a Canine Good Citizen program, which is a prerequisite for some therapy dog programs and pet-friendly apartment complexes. My favorite thing about CGC is part of the responsible owner pledge: “I will not let my dog infringe upon the rights of others.” Because no one likes a canine authoritarian.

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