October 28, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

New UCLA Study Finds That Pet Ownership May Be Negatively Impacting the Environment

We all know that owning a dog or cat can cause problems such as chewed shoes, “accidents” on the carpet and a proliferation of shedding hair. But have you considered the impact pet ownership can have on the environment?

A UCLA study released Wednesday found that a key requirement of pet ownership — feeding them — creates about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide a year in the United States, or the equivalent of driving 13.6 million cars for a year.

The problem comes from the environmental impacts of meat production, and the fact that dogs and cats are responsible for 25 to 30 percent of those impacts, according to the study by UCLA geography professor Gregory Okin. Compared to a plant-based diet, meat production “requires more energy, land and water and has greater environmental consequences in terms of erosion, pesticides and waste,” the study found.

In terms of waste, Okin noted, feeding pets also leads to about 5.1 million tons of feces every year, roughly equivalent to the total trash production of Massachusetts.

“Given the significant environmental impact of meat production, the contributions of our omnivorous and carnivorous pets deserve special attention,” according to Okin’s study, published in the journal PLOS ONE. “The U.S. has the largest population of pet dogs and cats globally, with an estimated 77.8 million dogs and 85.6 million cats in 2015.”

While previous studies have examined the impact of pet ownership on carbon use, water quality, disease and wildlife, Okin’s study delved into its impact on total U.S. energy and meat consumption, and the environmental impact of that consumption.

“This analysis does not mean to imply that dog and cat ownership should be curtailed for environmental reasons, but neither should we view it as an unalloyed good,” Okin wrote in the study. “It is clear that a transition to pets that eat less meat, and therefore have  less environmental impact, would reduce the overall U.S. consumption of meat.”

Okin’s report notes the social and emotional benefits of owning dogs and cats, insisting the study is intended to increase the awareness of the impact such pets have on the nation’s meat-production industry and its environmental effects.

“Additional research is needed to evaluate the animal content and human- edibility of ingredients in dog and cat food after processing, but the calculations presented here indicate that these pets comprise a significant proportion of U.S. energy and animal-derived product consumption, with the consequent environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emission and feces production,” he wrote.

Okin noted that the pet-food industry has made advancements in manufacturing, product design and alternative protein sources, but more can be done.

`Simple measures like feeding domestic dogs and cats nutritionally appropriate amounts will certainly reduce their environmental and energetic impact, Okin wrote. “However, without large-scale reduction in their number and changes to the food system that drastically reduces the per-capita animal product consumption, the environmental and energetic impact of these animals will remain significant.”

Latest UCLA news.

Related Posts

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s Across Santa Monica Raises $96,000

October 27, 2020

October 27, 2020

Santa Monica and Westside residents walked throughout the city’s neighborhoods, parks and trails, waving flags and sporting purple outfits to...

Edify TV: National Women’s Health and Fitness Day!

September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

September 30th marks National Women’s Health and Fitness Day, Here are a few fun activities to try out in celebration...

COVID-19 Could Have Been in Area as Early as Last December

September 15, 2020

September 15, 2020

UCLA study reports significant increase in coughs and acute respiratory failure prior to first official cases of COVID-19 By Sam...

County Walks Back Trick or Treating Ban

September 9, 2020

September 9, 2020

Department of Public Health now says trick or treating not recommended By Sam Catanzaro County health officials have walked back...

Trick nor Treat: LA County Bans Door to Door Trick or Treating

September 9, 2020

September 9, 2020

Update: the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has revised its Halloween guidelines. Previously, as reported below, officials planned...

Edify TV: LA County Salons Given Green Light

September 8, 2020

September 8, 2020

Barbershops and hair salons in Los Angeles County have been given the green light to reopen with restrictions in place...

UCLA Searching for COVID-19 Vaccine Volunteers

September 8, 2020

September 8, 2020

Editor’s note: this AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 trial is on temporary hold while the company looks into whether a patient involved in...

Ahead of Labor Day County Warns COVID-19 Progress Could Be Hampered

September 1, 2020

September 1, 2020

Seven-day positivity rate currently below 5 percent By Sam Catanzaro Despite optimism regarding COVID-19 transmission rates, ahead of Labor Day...

New Santa Monica Senior Affordable Housing

September 1, 2020

September 1, 2020

Greenway Meadows development nears completion A new development near completion in Santa Monica will provide 38 apartments to low-income seniors...

Montalvo on Montana’s ‘Boos Boos LA’ Cotton Masks

September 1, 2020

September 1, 2020

By Staff Writer In light of the growing need for personal protection equipment, a local company is getting creative with...

County Can ‘Think About’ Reopening Schools, Businesses if Transmission Rates Hold

August 25, 2020

August 25, 2020

Community spread still needs to decrease, officials say By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County’s head of public health noted at...

My Dog Day of Summer

August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020

I usually don’t sweat the news about temperatures.  I live on the Westside, close to the Pacific Ocean, and it...

Column: How to Play it Safe to Prevent Deadly Heat Exhaustion

August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020

By Shawn McCann  As the Southland region broils in a summer heatwave, the coronavirus pandemic has created additional concern for...

Conscious Human Medicine Helping Santa Monica Residents Reverse Chronic Disease and Boost Health

August 20, 2020

August 20, 2020

By Staff Writer When co-founders Dr. Mahboubeh Hashemi and Dr. Matthew Cavaiola started their practice, Conscious Human Medicine, they had...

LAUSD Announces Plans to Test and Contact Trace All Students and Staff

August 18, 2020

August 18, 2020

By Chad Winthrop The nation’s second-largest public school system will provide COVID-19 tests and contact tracing for all Los Angeles...