skip to Main Content

Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie (The Ultimate Guide)

This post contains affiliate links.

Zero-waste is a whole family experience, and we include our dog, Leo, by providing him with our version of zero-waste dog care.

It has been a long but enjoyable road of research, trials, errors, tribulations, and the odd immediate success but for Leo, it has mostly been about the biscuits.

If you want to discover all the best things I learned when I investigated how to raise a zero-waste dog but without the worst, then this is the post for you!

Zero-Waste Puppy Potty Training

Training pads seem like the answer to all your prayers when it comes to potty training your puppy. They are relatively cheap and are straightforward to use once your dog is used to them.

For those who don’t know, training pads work like a big flat disposable diaper soaking up the mess and leaving your floor clean and hygienic.

They also help to reduce the stress levels in both you and your dog as you are only rewarding the good behavior.

Any misses should be quietly cleaned up with lots of happy noises and stroking rewards for the hits on target.

Housebound, sick, and elderly dogs can also benefit from having a pee pad in the house to avoid accidents.

However, not all pads are the same, and a huge amount of them find their way into landfill sites each year.

So What Are Your Zero-Waste Puppy Pad Options?

zero-waste dog white puppy on white sheet
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

Newspaper – These should not be your first option. Puppies are playful characters and are more likely to rip newspapers to shreds instead of peeing on them!

The last thing you want during training is a confused puppy who has learned to rip up the pee pads for enjoyment.

Biodegradable Training Pad – These pads are generally a great option, and some of the benefits are:

  • They use safe plant-based materials.
  • Can physically attract the dog through scent.
  • Will turn pee into a manageable gel
  • They trap and neutralize odors.
  • Dry quickly, avoiding spillage and tracking.
  • Being plant-based, they are non-toxic and will break down easily.

Reusable Training Pad – Multiple layers of absorbent material with waterproof backing. However, puppies love to chew on anything, so make sure that they are free of harmful chemicals.

The beauty here is that they can be tossed into the washer and reused.

Washable Dog Diapers – Dog diapers are great for older, incontinent dogs or female dogs on heat.

They mimic the baby world cloth diapers, but microfiber dog diapers can hold up to seven times their weight in liquid.

Great for housebound dogs or when traveling.

dog in a diaper zero waste dog

Dog Diaper Wrap Medium 20 pounds to 40 pounds.
The dog diaper wrap covers the rear of the dog with wings in the middle that wrap around the dog’s stomach.
Materials: cotton, polyester, webbing, velcro 
Other sizes and colors are available.

Fresh Patch Grass Dog Potty – Hydroponically-grown grass in a box is delivered to your door weekly. City-living dogs with no backyard will prefer to relieve themselves on a patch of grass.

All are completely biodegradable!

However, I must say point out that you will need a tray to place these pads into. Not only will this tray hold any excess liquid, but it will give the dog a familiar, secure, non-slip area to pee in.

Dad’s tip:-If you have a tray, you could make your own zero-waste puppy training pad area. Simply lay absorbent materials within the tray and then cover it with a patch of artificial grass.

Just don’t forget to punch holes into the rubber backing!

What to look for when purchasing a puppy pad:

  • Quick Drying Avoid paw prints all over your floor.
  • Leak-Proof– Keep your area clean, smell-free, and hygienic.
  • Odor Neutralizing – Ammonia smells are unpleasant.
  • Absorbent – Generally, the thinner the pad, the less liquid it can hold.
  • Attractant – Entice the puppy into a safe area, and reduce stress.
  • Materials – Puppies chew, so they must be non-toxic.
  • Size – Too big, and it’s a sleeping mat; too small, it will overflow.

Once you have chosen your pads, make sure that your selected area is dog-friendly and safe. Keep the area free from wires, electrical equipment, and anything that produces a constant noise that may cause unnecessary stress.

Zero-Waste Dog Food

zero waste homemade dog food
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

Homemade Dog Food For The Zero-Waste Dog

The ultimate in zero waste dog food is to make your own. However, this option is fraught with difficulties and is both time-consuming and individualistic.

So what do I mean by individualistic?

Well, each dog is different in terms of size, breed, sex, and age. This means that they each have additional nutritional requirements and underlying health conditions individual to them.

Therefore I would say this. Before setting off on a routine of making your dog food, please seek expert guidance. Even if you believe that dogs are now omnivorous, they could cope with a meat-free diet.

Vegan diets for dogs are a relatively new concept, and the long-term impacts are unknown. 

Personally, I would not recommend a doggy vegan diet as we should not think of a dog’s dietary needs and internal workings to be the same as humans.

Raw Dog Food

Raw feeding family pets were first proposed in 1993 by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst. He called his feeding suggestions the BARF diet, an acronym for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.

Raw feeding is becoming a popular feeding method among pet owners, although it’s hard to maintain an inexpensive zero-waste option. And one might argue that all that meat is doing little to reduce Fido’s carbon footprint.

So although your butcher might save you the odd bone or turkey neck to bring home in your glass jar, long-term sustainability may become an issue.

Potential risks include:

  • The potential threat to dog health from bacteria in raw meat
  • An unbalanced diet due to a lack of consistent supplies may damage the dog’s health over time.
  • Potential for animal bones to splinter and lacerate the mouth, throat, or gut, cause internal blockages or cause death by choking.
  • High protein diets are unsuitable for dogs with kidney,  liver, or weight problems.

The point here is that feeding your dog raw food might sound like a good zero-waste option; in reality, it is fraught with problems.

Those wishing to try raw food should seek a veterinarian’s advice and look into the long-term feasibility for the household.

How To Make Zero-Waste Dog Food

zero-waste dog cookbook

The Healthy Homemade Dog Food Cookbook has recipes for all dogs – including healthy dogs and dogs with various health conditions.

If you decide to cook your dog food, there are plenty of books on the market. Cooking these recipes will ensure that they are getting enough protein, nutrients, and fiber.

These professional cookbooks cost less than $10.00, and all the recipes are tried, tested, perfectly balanced, and safe for your favorite pooch. 

Please do not go it alone or only take your advice from unqualified origins through blog posts.

The recipes include BARF dietary advice, nutritional considerations, plus advice on food sensitivities and allergies.

Recipe books like these are invaluable if you want your dog to be safe and healthy as you transition to making your dog food.

I am not a vet or a pet nutritionist, so I will not give you a recipe for your dog. But if you are making meals from scraps, please be aware of the foods you are using.

Many human foods contain ingredients, flavorings, and coatings harmful to dogs, so please check out the following article.

For a list of human foods dangerous to dogs, please read:

32 Toxic Foods For Dogs + Signs Your Dog Is Poisoned

One thing I do like to do is to, however, make Leo a stew made from any leftover meats. I take the cooked meat and other leftovers and add a very low sodium gravy or broth, and he loves it.

Utilizing leftovers or creating a meat-free doggy Monday meal planner is a great way to reduce his carbon footprint.

Human foods can contain hidden salts, sugars, and other additives. So it is always wise to check that your dog has easy access to fresh drinking water.

Starting The Zero-Waste Dog Edibles Journey

Begin With The Recommended Weight Of Your Dog

This may seem like an odd place to start, but the simple fact is that obesity in dogs is rife. Overfeeding uses more resources, creates more waste from discarded food, and shortens the lifespan.

An unhealthy dog also has increased veterinarian visits, uses more medicines, poops more, and is less happy.

If you want a zero-waste dog, then the simplest thing is to feed him to his correct weight range.

Reduce The Kibble

Whilst I do not condone an entirely plant-based or home-cooked diet for most dogs, I encourage the introduction of fresh produce and proteins into their diets.

Speak with your veterinarian first, but you could reduce the kibble and introduce a partly home-cooked diet. For instance, you could cook a chicken breast (plain nothing added), add a few veggies, and reduce the kibble.

Striking this balance means that the dog is not overfed, and you can be happy that the dog’s nutritional needs are being met. Once you have struck this balance, you can take it a step further with nutritional treats.

Make Your Own Zero-Waste Dog Edible Treats

zero waste homemade dog treats
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

You control the ingredients, and there is no packaging; what’s not to love.

Treats are effortless to make, and there are a ton of recipes online. If ever you wanted to bond with your dog, this is the perfect way to do it.

From baked biscuits to frozen fruit, your little one will love them. Plus, the best bit is that they are all additive-free and can be made from all of your dog’s favorites. For example, my dog Leo loves a ball of frozen sardines in the summer!

Leo also likes salmon and rabbit, but strangely enough, beef has never been on his much-loved list.

However, now that you know what a dog can and can’t eat, you can save up your leftover food to make nutritious dog treats.

There are many whole food recipes online, but for leftovers, just squeeze and shape them into small balls and refrigerate them until required. This is the real beauty of homemade treats and it’s all zero waste.

On a final note, store dry baked treats in a glass or ceramic storage container to keep them fresh.

Drop in a few packets of deoxidizer crystals (still sealed) in the container to keep them fresh.

Shop Bought Edible Treats

Most shop-bought treats come in plastic bags and have hidden additives, so try to avoid them where possible.

Also, steer clear of individually wrapped treats. These are often wrapped in plastic, and you don’t want to increase the demand for them.

Another simple zero-waste option is to buy treats wrapped in recyclable cardboard (thinking of boxed bones here). Or better yet, make your cloth bag and fill it up at the bulk buy bins.

However, make sure that you check the ingredients of these treats. Some unscrupulous retailers will often pop some cheap, none nutritious “goodies” in there.

Leo is part of my family, and I will always be conscious of the food I feed him.

Zero-Waste Dog Chews (Rawhide & Antlers)

rawhide bone in puppies mouth zero waste dog treats
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

Dog chews are mainly given to dogs to occupy their minds, satisfy the craving to chew, and help clean their teeth. However, not all dog chews are the same, and rawhide can be very dangerous.


Rawhide is made from the inner layer of an animal’s skin. The skin is processed using many dangerous and toxic chemicals; sometimes, formaldehyde is used, which is a known carcinogen.

At the end of the chemical process, the rawhide is ground up and then pressed into rawhide dog treats. These treats can present a choking hazard, break a dog’s teeth and cause digestive issues.

Given the high amount of processing and manufacturing required and the danger to health, these treats are not zero waste worthy.


Although many times harder than bones, antlers carry the same risks. Natural products can splinter, break teeth, become a choking hazard and cause many internal problems.

This is alarmingly true for very young or very old dogs.

Make no mistake, the distress to the dog will be high, and the veterinarian bills will be even higher! Of course, many dogs love to chew on antlers, but to my mind, these edible chews represent the canine equivalent of Russian roulette.

For a truly zero-waste edible dog chew, you should stick to homemade baked or frozen treats using their favorite foods.

Or try more natural but chewier products like dehydrated sweet potato chews.

Sweet potato is a mild diuretic for dogs but can be used to settle and soothe mild stomach problems.

If you’re looking for chewable toys that can be stuffed with food, then try the Kong brand. These toys are made from rubber and are virtually indestructible.

They are a firm favorite for dogs who love to chew, although sadly, they are not recyclable.

Buy Edible Zero-Waste Dog Treats Made From Invasive Species

Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

This is a fantastic opportunity to feed your dog and help the ecosystem while you are doing it. But, unfortunately, invasive species have infested land and water across America and caused massive disruptions to the ecosystem.

These invasive species have to be culled, but then their precious nutrients go to waste. For example, Nutria is smaller than a beaver but larger than a muskrat and does incredible harm to the Louisiana wetlands.

Nutria is a high-quality, dense protein source similar in taste to a rabbit. It’s lower in fat and cholesterol than turkey and free of hormones and antibiotics. To get this ecological alternative, click here.

Other sources of protein that considerably cut down the carbon footprint and are a good zero waste option are insects. For example, crickets are high in protein, use less water, and less land, and are a completely sustainable food source.

If you want a zero-waste dog, then look to eco-friendly and sustainable edible treat sources.

Buy Your Zero-Waste Dog Food In Bulk

Cutting down on packaging is the ultimate goal here. However, the monetary savings are a nice bonus! Many stores now sell their dried food in large bags, but please check to see if the packaging is 100% recyclable.

For instance, did you know over 95% of pet food bags are considered unrecyclable? That’s a lot of large bags going to landfills, so I would urge you to check them first for a 100% recyclable sign.

Better yet, move to sustainable packaging and buy dog foods whose packaging bears the Terracycle mark. TerraCycle® is a social enterprise Eliminating the Idea of Waste® and is a trusted recycler.

Get in touch with TerraCycle®, and you can order a free envelope to send them your old dog food bags and ensure they get properly recycled.

It may not be strictly zero waste, but it’s a start, and it prevents the bags from going to landfills.

Dried dog food can also be bought package free and in large quantities, if you take your containers. Although I would only advise cloth bags as some retailers will refuse plastic containers and boxes.

Buy Large Cans and Reduce Plastic Waste

zero waste reduce plastic wrap on dog food
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

Canned dog food is often packaged in multiples with plastic wrap to hold them together. To cut out this waste, encourage your retailer to buy and sell 100% cardboard-wrapped products.

You can then buy these cans as singles or in multiples to receive your discount. There is no need to use plastic, and if you buy the largest cans, you can also reduce metal consumption.

The larger the container, the less waste per unit of food is how I look at it. Plus, if recycled properly, metal is one of the elements that can be constantly recycled.

What Are The Best Zero-Waste Food Choices?

Let me start with this amazing fact;

According to the American Pet Products Association (A.P.P.A.), in their 2019 – 2020 survey, 63.4 million American households own a dog.

Consider that each dog eats tinned meat and that meat has to be fed resources and spews out waste. That is a lot of resources devoured, and in the case of red meat, methane spewed out.

For this reason, I would encourage a diet of white meat and fish. This diet is kinder to the planet and fulfills the zero waste dog brief to a higher degree.

Also, dogs are now omnivores and, as such, don’t need a grain-free diet unless specified by a veterinarian. However, adding grain to their diets does further reduce the demand for meat and inhumane animal practices.

Zero-Waste Dog Food Made From Fish

Dogs do love to eat fish, and fish are kind to the environment. They clean the world’s oceans and, if properly managed, are a sustainable food source.

However, did you know that some 4 million fishing vessels of all sizes now fish in the world’s oceans? Source WWF

We are overfishing our seas, and illegally caught fish trapped in massive nets are just dumped overboard. For this reason, buy fish or dog food only in containers marked with the ocean-wise symbol.

By doing this, we will promote sustainable fishing and reduce red meat consumption. This will also reduce the world levels of grain consumed and methane produced. This is important as methane is a greenhouse gas.

Studies also show that the environmental cost to the planet from raising poultry is significantly less than dairy.

Those are the two greatest zero waste tips for all dog owners. By shifting away from eating a largely red meat diet, the savings to the earth’s ecosystem could be enormous.

Just be sure to stay away from raw fish, to find out why please read: 32 Toxic Foods For Dogs + Signs Your Dog Is Poisoned

Zero-Waste Dog Poop Disposal Information (Bags)

All that food we have been talking about has to come out sometime and how we deal with it is extremely important. Some might argue that leaving it on the grass is the optimum for zero waste.

But is this correct, safe, or ethical?

How Safe Is It To Leave Dog Poop On The Ground?

Dog poop should never be left on the ground, as it is estimated that 1 gram of dog waste can contain up to 23 million fecal coliform bacteria.

 They also carry the following diseases:

  • Whipworms
  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Parvo
  • Corona
  • Giardiasis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Cryptosporidiosis
  • Campylobacteriosis

When left on the ground, the eggs of certain parasites and worms can linger in the soil for years. As a result, anyone or any dog who comes into contact with the contaminated soil may also come into contact with these eggs.

Think of your child coming directly into contact with fresh poop, “1 gram 23 million bacteria”, or even these eggs a year later. Young children love to play on the ground and often put things in their mouths or rub their eyes.

This is why dog poop is very dangerous and should never be left on the ground. There is also a link between dog feces and Toxocariasis, a roundworm parasitic infection that causes blindness.

The Environmental problem Caused By Not Picking Up Dog Poop

asphyxiated fish zero waste dog poop disposal
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

Think of it this way, 63.4 million American households have at least 1 dog. Each dog poops a minimum of 2 poops a day, and all of them are filled with microorganisms and pathogens.

If left on the floor, each poop will eventually flush into the water systems, contaminating drinking water and feeding aquatic algae. This algae then blooms and strangles streams, lakes, rivers, and waterways.

Under these conditions, light cannot fully penetrate the water surface and the oxygen levels in the water decrease. As a result, all the fish and aquatic animals in the water slowly become asphyxiated and die.

This may seem like a horror story, but with an excess of 63.4 million dogs and 2 poops a day, can you see it happening?

So if we are happy that leaving poop on the floor is not the best option, what is?

Zero-Waste Dog Poop Solutions

So what’s the best zero-waste way to pick it up and dispose of it? Well, we have several options open to us, but not all are as straightforward as they may seem. So let’s delve in and find the best match for you.


The ultimate in zero waste is to use something you already have and is 100% natural. A newspaper fills this brief, but it can be messy and not secure unless you tape it closed.

If you use a newspaper, try to get in under the dog as soon as it crouches and save yourself a lot of frustration. Also, use plenty of paper as it may leak due to its absorbent nature.

Zero-Waste Compostable & Biodegradable Poop Bags

We will not talk about 100% plastic bags here, poop or otherwise, as I think we can all agree that they are not a zero-waste dog option.

On the subject of biodegradable poop bags, however, Buyer Beware. Not all biodegradable poop bags are the same, and you could be an innocent victim of greenwashing.

Greenwashing makes people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it is. 

If you want to learn more about this, read on.

Biodegradable Poop Bags

Some doggie poop bags are made from oxo-biodegradable plastics. This means that they contain chemical additives that break down plastics into smaller elements.

Ultimately, oxo-biodegradable products become less visible; however, they can still cause the same damage to the ecology.

In addition, it may take 12 – 18 months plus for these products to fragment, depending on weather conditions.

Microplastic beads result from the complete fragmentation of oxo-biodegradable material, and they can become part of the food chain.

These microplastic beads are not eternal, but it will take a very, very long time for the molecules to become CO2 & H2O. That being said, it is still the green choice if the alternative is to leave it on the ground.

Compostable poop bags

dump truck unloading on a landfill site
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

Truly biodegradable poop bags are made from 100% natural elements and consumed as food by natural organisms. However, if these bags go to landfill sites and are buried, they will not break down as you might expect.

This is true of all poop bags, regardless of composition.

This is due to the lack of oxygen. When the matter is dumped at a landfill site, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition, and this generates methane. (A greenhouse gas).

Therefore, it is important to try and dispose of the poop and bags in other ways, which we will discuss later. But, for the moment, use compostable poop bags made from 100% natural ingredients that are compostable.

If your local region or municipality has a dog waste management plan, these are the bags that they would prefer.

Remove as much air as possible before knotting the bag to prevent poop explosions from the truck’s compressor. Such explosions might propel poop into the faces of the workers or children passing by.

Key compostability standards in the US are ASTM D6400 or D6868. In Europe, the standard is EN 13432.

BioBags are made from plants and conform to ASTM D6400. Look for these standards when buying your poop bags. We will discuss how to compost these bags at home in the next section.  

siteground logo

Flushable Poop Bags

Before using this option, please check to see if your local municipality accepts this option. I would not use this option due to the problems it can cause.

In Australia, flushable poop bags have blocked pipes as they do not dissolve quickly enough in cold water. These bags are also made of polyvinyl, which is an oxo-biodegradable plastic.

If you use these bags, then don’t tie the flushable bag as air will be trapped inside. This will increase the chance of blockages in the system if it flushes at all!

Never deposit these bags into the storm sewers either, as these often flow into waterways and contaminate the water.

Remember, no matter what the bag, they will only produce methane gas if they are buried on a landfill site.

Plus, poop in landfill sites can lead to water contamination, which is why some landfill sites have a no poop policy.

Disposing Of Dog Poop The Zero-Waste Way (No Bags)

cartoon dog on hind legs looking shocked

Can You Flush Dog Poop Down The Toilet?

Before using this option, please check to see if your local municipality accepts this option. Dog waste is not the same as human waste due to pathogens and bacteria within it.

So it is only safe to flush dog poop directly down the toilet after you have checked that your water treatment works can process it. If they cannot, then the municipality will advise you of your options.

However, if you are allowed to do this, the most effective way is to use a pooper scooper. Simply pick it up with the scooper and no bag, drop it into the toilet, and flush it away.

The second option is to bring the poop home in a bag and then empty the contents into the toilet and flush it. The bag can go into the waste landfills. However, the good news is that it will now create significantly less methane.

Cat feces are different from a dog’s feces and must never be flushed down the toilet.

Bury Dog Poop – Zero-Waste Style

The Ultimate in zero waste is simply to bury it but is this advisable? Dog waste is full of nasty pathogens like Giardia, Salmonella, and E. coli. It can also carry worms and other diseases depending on the health of your dog.

Dog waste also has many nutrients that encourage the growth of fish and plant-killing algae. Therefore it is only possible to bury dog poop under strictly controlled conditions.

Your local municipality may even ban the practice altogether, so please check with them first. If you can bury the waste, it must be buried in a spot that cannot contaminate any waterways.

It must be at least 6 to 12 inches deep and lay undisturbed for 12 months or more. Furthermore, due to the bacteria and parasitic content, the waste must not be able to leach into any edible plants.

For instance, Ringworm can live in contaminated soil for years, and you don’t want these on your edible plants.

Zero-Waste Your Dog Poop By Composting

composting for zero waste
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

You have compostable bags, so you can just toss them onto the compost, right? Well, the answer is both yes and no.

A small, largely unattended compost pile will not get to a high enough temperature to kill the pathogens or bacteria. For this reason, a small outdoor composter is not recommended for dog waste.

Temperature is the key here as the compost pile needs to get to 145F to 165F for five days to kill the pathogens. After this time, you cannot use the compost on edible plants but only on ornamental ones.

If all of this sounds too risky, contact the local municipality and see if they have a dog waste collection service. Many do and will be glad of all the extra nutrients that this waste can provide.

For every detail, you might ever need to compost dog waste check out this guide from the National Resource Conservation Service (N.R.C.S).

Zero-Waste Your Dog Poop With A Wormery

Worms will eat almost anything, and you can compost your food waste in a wormery as well as dog waste. However, just like a composter, you should not use the final product on your edible plants.

A wormery will, however, speed up the whole composting process. Plus, in addition to the compost material, wormeries also produce organic juice. This concentrated juice makes excellent fertilizer and is produced daily.

Simply drain off the juice and drop it at the base of your non-edible plants, flowers, and shrubs.

Install A Doggy Dooley / Septic Tank

This involves digging a hole in the ground and sinking your septic tank into it. Next, after ensuring good drainage, you would simply drop the doggie waste into it.

Follow this with water and the starter enzymes, replace the lid, and you’re good to go. Now you just need to add your waste, water, and enzymes over the weeks as per instructions.

The waste will be broken down and drained into the soil, leaving no mess, no smell, and very little maintenance.

Cove Products K9 Kennels Dog Pet Waste Management System


More Details

This large-capacity septic system is installed into the ground and works in concert with the included waste terminating enzymes to liquefy and disappear your dog waste.

Just pop the lip open with a free foot, drop the waste in, and then just occasionally add some waste enzymes and water to dispose of your dog waste fully!

No more of those bags and stinky trash cans around your house! Make short work of your dog’s business — the safe, clean natural way with this dog septic system.

Things to consider about installing a septic tank:

  • Doggie doolies (septic tanks) need free-draining soil
  • The enzymes stop working below 40 F
  • Bury the tank in a quiet spot away from a watercourse
  • The plastic lids can become brittle in the sun (choose a shady spot)
  • The moisture levels must be checked and maintained

This is the best and greenest choice for the zero waste enthusiast. Dog waste can be picked up using a pooper scooper, cutting out the need for a bag. It is then dropped into the septic tank, and its job is done!

Zero-waste Eco-Friendly Dog Toys

natural dog toys zero waste pets
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

The two things you need to look out for in a zero-waste dog toy are durability and natural materials. If you can combine these traits with natural colors and a pleasant scent, then you are a winner.

To get this perfect blend, you have two options;

  • Make the dog toys yourself (it’s easier than you think)
  • Buy dog toys of a higher quality and specify no plastic

How To Make A Zero-Waste Dog Toy

Making your eco-friendly dog toy is a great idea and an enriching experience. I cut an old pair of jeans into strips, braided them together, and knotted the ends.

This cost me nothing, repurposed some material, was fun to do and gave my dog Leo a toy containing my scent. Of course, this was a no-sew toy, but honestly, it’s one of his favorites.

You can make many different toys in this way, and all you have to do is utilize what you already have. Trust me, your dog will love you for it, and you will form an even stronger bond than you have at present.

Here are a few quick ideas for making simple zero-waste dog toys:

  • A tennis ball in a long sock is a great throwing toy
  • Old T-shirts cut into strips and braided make a fantastic small pull toy
  • Use Garden Furniture and kid’s toys to turn your garden into an agility area
  • Make a large pull toy from old jeans by cutting up the legs and braiding them
  • Cut the end off a thick sock and tie it off with string. Fill a toilet roll tube with crinkled brown paper and put it into the sock. Tie off the remaining end, and you have a crinkle chew toy. (I put treats into mine, and Leo destroys it!)
  • In summer, soak a sock in water and drain, add some tinned sardines and freeze. This cools Leo and gives him some protein treats at the same time.

Zero-Waste Dog Toys Are Made From Natural Materials

Cheap dog toys are made to entice the owner, not the dog. Humans see a cheap, bright red, mouth-sized, fun, and bouncy hardball. Suitably enticed, we buy it and smile.

However, the dog only sees a black moving stone!

This is why soo many dog toys are left unplayed with and end up in a landfill. In this example, the ball here is uninteresting as dogs do not see the color red.

In addition, it has no scent and is virtually unchewable because of its shape.

Contrast that experience with a natural dog toy. A light blue ball, oddly shaped, made of naturally fragrant rice husk that squishes in the mouth. Fun for a dog but looks dull and yet expensive to a human.

This is because the makers of natural dog toys have taken the time to understand the dog’s needs. They make a toy that, to the dog, smells good, looks good, feels good, and that it can see properly.

Dogs see the colors of the world as basically yellow, blue, and gray. They see the colors green, yellow, and orange as yellowish, and they see violet and blue as blue. Blue-green is seen as gray and bright red as black.

So when your dog passes that cheap plastic red ball on the grass, hopefully, you can see now why he has done so. If you want a true zero-waste toy, then buy or make a natural one.

Look out for toys made of hemp, rice husk, natural rubber, bamboo, etc.

Zero-Waste Essentials Beds, Bowls, Collars

zero waste dog essentials bowls
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

My doggy essentials zero waste tip is to buy quality even though it may seem to be expensive. We are talking about collars, leads, harnesses, beds, and bowls here.

You will get a lifetime’s wear from good quality gear, saving you money in the long run. Look for products made with sustainable materials from ethical suppliers or local traders.

From stainless steel or bamboo bowls to hemp collars and leads, they are all out there. Zero waste means buying these things only once and not having to replace them. This saves you money and the planet its resources.

If you are handy with a sewing machine, you can make dog beds, car seat protectors, and many other items easily. Old towels are great for this, plus old clothes cut up into rags make great stuffing materials.

Small dog beds are even easier. Just take an old pillowcase, fill it with old clothes/rags and seal the end. Next, place the pillowcase in a suitable-sized cardboard box or old suitcase, and it’s job done!

It will always smell of you, which your dog will love, is fully washable, and can be remade at any time.

Zero-Waste Dog Kennel

For the dog who loves to live outside, there are many zero-waste options. For example, look up “bamboo dog house” to find a strong house that will weather down and eventually add to your compost.

Alternatively, you could build your own ultimate zero-waste dog house out of reclaimed wood.

This would be a great way to get the kids involved and give little fido an away day retreat!

Buying Secondhand Is The Zero-Waste Way

Before you buy secondhand goods, scope out the free ads.

Many people would love to give their stuff away to support other dogs but might not be able to take it to a thrift store.

While you are there, consider picking up all you can and donating it to the local shelter. They will be happy with the help and in this way everybody wins!

If you need to buy secondhand, you can find pet carriers, toys, dog beds, leads, etc., at your local thrift store. So this is still a great place to start before you buy any new products.

These items may not always be plastic-free or made from natural materials, but you will be keeping them out of landfill sites.

Buying from here will also extend their life and give them a new home. However, do make sure that they are clean and free of any scents before giving them to your dog so that they are not rejected.

Zero-Waste Grooming

dog being washed in river
Zero-Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie

I know some people like to use essential oils on dogs but do you know which ones to avoid.

For more information please read; Essential oils dangerous to cats, dogs, and birds before selecting and using essential oils.

Dogs, especially mine, tend to smell after a while and need a good bath. So this is the time to say no to plastic.

Many companies sell dedicated bar soaps for dogs with minimal or all-natural packaging. You can also try using Castile soap diluted in water or grooming shampoo from your local dog parlor.

Leo has sensitive skin, so the only product I use is diluted Castile soap and water.

However, dog hair can be a real pain, so you need to stop using the lint rollers as they are extremely wasteful. Instead, it would be best if you bought a ChomChom pet hair tool. It easily picks up hair and is very easy to clean. It’s a doggy must-have.

ChomChom Roller Dog Hair Remover


Read Reviews

Benefits at a Glance

  • Remove dog hair & cat hair easily
  • Reusable, sturdy pet hair remover tool
  • No batteries required

The ChomChom Roller is one of the World’s Best Pet Hair removers. By simply moving the pet hair roller back and forth, you immediately track and pick up cat hairs and dog hairs embedded deeply in sofas, couches, beds, carpets, blankets, comforters, and more.

Be aware that the ChomChom is plastic and is therefore not suitable if you are trying to go plastic-free. However, this is a zero-waste article, and it will make massive savings on lint rollers.

Alternatives to the Chom Chom would include steel combs and wooden-handled brushes found in most stores. Or you could try the rubber dishwashing glove. Then, simply rub the hair in one direction and watch the magic!

And don’t just throw away those stray pet hairs.

Pet fur is perfect for nest building so, please place clumps of hair at the bases of trees. It will make some birds very happy and will also encourage wildlife into your life. You are happy, they are happy, it’s a wonderful thing.

In Summary

So there we have it—a complete breakdown of the information that should allow you to have a zero-waste dog. I may have gone on a bit about the importance of picking up your dog waste, but hopefully, you can see why.

For this reason, my final tip is to say this;

Whenever you pick up your dog’s waste, please look around to see if there is another dog’s waste on the floor. If there is, please pick it up as the environmental effect of everybody doing that will be enormous.

If you don’t see another poop, then please look around for other small waste items such as cigarette butts or bottle tops. You could pick this up first, then pick up the poop. Trust me; this small action will make your local community and the planet a little bit happier.

Thank you for reading Zero Waste Dog Care – From Puppy To Oldie (The Ultimate Guide)

Related reads;

 32 Toxic Foods For Dogs + Signs Your Dog Is Poisoned

How To Go Zero-Waste In College – Spend Less/Save More

Zero Waste Home (The Ultimate Money-Saving Guide)

A proud father of two boys, an amateur actor, and a green living enthusiast, Mark has been sharing hints, tips, and sustainable living content on his website Sustainability Dad since august 2019.

Back To Top