Many relationships exist between humans and their animal companions. Regardless of the relationship, the costs of pet ownership are more than just veterinary bills and the purchase of pet food. The purpose of this study is to examine the environmental impacts associated with ownership of canus lupus familiaris, more commonly known as the domesticated dog. Since dogs are carnivorous by nature, there has already been significant interest in the ecological ‘pawprint’ of pet food, or the pressure that dog food production exerts on the environment.
This study utilizes Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to determine the environmental impacts of industrial pet food production and furthermore, pet ownership through nutritional requirements. Additionally, this study aims to examine how pet food type—beef or lamb—can influence greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The approach taken by this study is that of a hybrid input-output LCA, combining Economic Input Output (EIO-LCA) data and process-level data to examine how supply chain decisions made by pet food manufactures can affect the ecological ‘pawprint’ of the domestic dog. The EIO-LCA provides an economy-wide lens, whereas, process-based LCAs provide data relevant to specific materials and processes. This approach was used to compare the environmental impacts associated with environmentally friendly supply chain decisions compared to the typical environmental impact of dog food.