We talk a lot about how to reduce your water usage in your own home through what you eat, what you wear, and how you garden.  But what about your little critters at home?  Of course, we wouldn’t advocate for doing anything unhealthy for you or your cats and dogs, but maybe you can make choices in the toys and food you buy for your pet that will reduce your pet’s virtual water footprint.

Like items for babies, toys made for dogs and cats should be large, and should not have small pieces that can break off and present a choking hazard for your dog and cat.  Often, this means that toys will be made of plastics and other environmentally-unfriendly materials.  Luckily, there are plenty of ideas out there for DIY dog toys, often using items you probably have around your home right now.   Your kitty will be equally entertained by these homemade cat toys. By giving a second life to that old T-shirt you don’t wear anymore, your empty milk jugs, and that threadbare dish towel that doesn’t do anything, you can watch your virtual water footprint drop to zero.

How about food?  Depending on what brand you shop for, your dog or cat food might be made primarily of corn, rendered meat scraps (possibly including…eep… other dogs and cats), and fat.  In short, it’s mostly exactly the sort of ingredients you should try to avoid if you’re keeping a virtual water friendly diet at home.  Of course, Fido and Fluffy have to eat – so what’s an eco-conscious pet owner to do?  Make their own dog and cat food!

Dog food should include protein, fat, carbs, calcium, and fatty acids  Even though we’ve all been told not to give our fluffy friends table scraps, you can reduce your virtual water impact by letting them eat the food that we, their people, wouldn’t eat: organ meat, egg shells, vegetable peels, etc.  Feed your dog your dinner leftovers, supplemented with your grey-water gardened produce, and use this guide  to select the best proportions.

Cat food is heavy in meats, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited in your recipe options.  

Unlike humans, a vegetarian diet simply isn’t an option for your canines and felines unless you’re willing to introduce supplements into their diet.  So, can a dog or cat eat a diet that is virtual-water friendly?  The key lies in making use of all that’s available.  Even if you don’t eat meat at home, you can get low-cost animal product at the grocery store or butcher by buying those ingredients that don’t sell well to human consumers: organ meat, bones, ox tail, chicken and turkey neck, etc.  As we noted in our Thanksgiving post, people will always eat meat, but by making sure that we use every single part of the animal, we can offset their potentially wasteful eating by making sure nothing goes to, well, waste.

We love our pets, and we want to give them the best.  Even if virtual water isn’t a motivating factor for you, the food recipes in this post will generally be healthy or more natural for your furry friend, and the toys will save you money in addition to saving the environment.  Show your love by potentially adding a few years to your pet’s life, a few dollars to your wallet, and replenishing a bit of our planet’s most precious resource: water.