As the Year of the Dog is approaching, let's talk a bit about our good old partner, the dog. Dogs were domesticated as early as prehistoric times, when humans obtained food through hunting and gathering. At that time, dogs probably fed on what people ate. In today's world, however, dogs are treated as pets and have their own special food.
There has been research calculating the ecological footprint of feeding a dog. Take a medium-size dog for example: it consumes about 300g of dry dog food each day, which each year amounts an 8,400 square metre ecological footprint, equivalent to driving 20,000 kilometres in a car.
og food consists mainly of beef, lamb and chicken meat. The production of these meats requires a large area of land, water and energy. Although some dog foods are made up of by-products from meat production for humans, such as bones and offal, they are less and less popular. More premium meat—even of sufficient quality for human consumption—is used to make dog food.
In Hong Kong, most dog foods are imported from Korea, Japan, New Zealand and even Germany. The long-distance transport contributes to more carbon emissions. Extra energy is also needed for some special storage, such as a dry environment for dry food, or a freezer for raw and half-raw meat. It looks like the ecological footprint of dogs in Hong Kong will be higher than that indicated in the research in the import of dog food
In recent years, there are proponents—both locally and in other countries—of providing dogs with a vegetarian diet. Of course, this may be more than for just environmental considerations; dog owners may find such diet is healthier for their pets. In any case, a vegetarian diet may not be suitable for all dogs. To reduce ecological footprints, dog owners can try to prepare healthy dog food with local, fresh ingredients. Their beloved dogs will certainly love it!
Text | Helen Yau