Environmental footprint of meat consumption of cats and dogs

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Dogs and cats have traditionally been kept on farms and other households and were fed offal from human consumption. Dogs were used as guards or for hunting; cats had an important role to play in the control of rodents. In industrialized countries, dogs and cats are nowadays kept mainly as companion animals and fed on high quality commercially produced feed. As carnivorous animals by nature their diet contains high amounts of materials of animal origin which could be suitable for human consumption. This raises the question
of the impact of dog and cat feed from animal origin on the use of scarce resources and the environment. It was the aim of the present study to estimate feed consumption, land use and carbon dioxide equivalents (CO₂e) for dogs and cats as the most frequent carnivorous companion animals in the USA, EU and selected European countries from available statistics. The total number of dogs and cats is similar in the USA and in the EU. However, the number of dogs and cats per capita is higher in the USA than in the EU and any selected European
country. Annual feed intake was estimated 98 kg (23kg dry matter) per cat and 211 kg (76.5 kg dry matter) per dog. The fraction of materials of animal origin is 50 % for cats and 45 % for dogs. Land use for feed production was about 1000 m² per cat and 2000 m² per dog. Annual CO₂e for cats and dogs was 411 and 840 kg respectively. Arable land required for the production of feed for cats and dogs varied between 10 and 20 % of the national land resources. The CO₂e for dog and cat feed is about 1 – 2 % of the countries’ total CO₂e production, but equals about 10 % (for a cat) to 20% (for a dog) of the CO₂e for feeding their owner. The contribution of feed for dogs and cats on the overall production of greenhouse gases may be overestimated in the public discussion, but cannot be neglected if food consumption is considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalLohmann Information
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

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