Zero Waste Ideas for Dogs: Meet Rosco and Maya






Meet the furry low waste members of my family today! I have two dogs, Maya and Rosco — Maya is a 5 years old Shih Tzu and Rosco is a 7-year-old coonhound+foxhound mix. They both came from the Humane Society and they both have sad stories, but I think they both are a lot happier now.

When we decided to go low waste, naturally, our dogs became low waste too. There is nothing too fancy here, just some things I have figured out as time has gone on. Obviously, there are a bunch of things that we can not avoid, such as medication that ALWAYS comes in plastic or kibble, that I haven’t found it yet in a recycled bag.

  1. Make homemade dog food and buy big bags of food

  2. Pick up the poo with paper bags or just move it straight in the compost bin

  3. Thrift outdoor pillowcases to change up their bed covers

  4. Buy bones straight from butchers

  5. Choose natural fibers for leases and toys

  6. Make their bed with old pillows and fabric from old clothing

  7. Make your own doggy toothpaste

  8. Buy food and water dishes second hand

  9. Invest in your own grooming tools and learn how to groom your pets

  10. Buy crates second hand

I realize that these ideas are not exactly cute to look at, but trust me they work. Read more about each idea. I think it will make sense. I am also talking about these ideas because they will save you LOTS OF MONEY.

Make homemade dog food and buy big bags of food

1. Homemade dog food.jpg

Some of the veggie scraps, like broccoli stems, can bring lots of flavour to dog food. I always have a container in my freezer where I save dog-friendly foods. You have to educate yourself about the foods your dog can and not have, be sure to check with your vet but I will leave a helpful article from Medical News Today here too.

I asked the Southport Animal Hospital in PEI about if it is ok to make homemade food for my dogs and here is the reply I got:

“You can definitely do homemade dog food but she strongly recommends working with a service that will provide a recipe for a balanced diet. Feeding an unbalanced diet in the short term is relatively safe but long term, (like the years and years we want your pups to live) having a diet that has the appropriate amounts of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals specific to your dogs’ needs is vital. The 2 companies that are available online are and If you are feeding a good quality dog kibble, that would be considered appropriately balanced and you can “top it up” with human foods but it should be no more than 10% of each dog’s caloric intake for the day.” -
— Southport Animal Hospital, PEI Canada

I post a lot about me making dog food on Instagram and some people were curious about my recipe and process so…

Here’s a quick recipe for my homemade dog food

Ingredients home-made dog food:

  • One pound of ground beef or chicken from a local butcher or farm

  • Whatever veggies you have. I mostly use broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, pumpkin, squash.

  • 2 cups of rice

  • Water (or broth) to cover

Process for making home-made dog food:

  • I boil the meat first and break it down into small pieces so Maya can actually eat it. I change the water once or twice, depending on how dirty looks to me.

  • While waiting for the meat to cook I chop all the veggies into small pieces if I have fresh veggies. If I work with frozen veggies that I save in the freezer, I boil them first then cut them before adding them to the meat pot.

  • When the meat is almost cooked (there is not much pink in the middle) I add all the veggies.

  • Let them boil at medium heat for about 10 minutes.

  • Then add two cups of rice and add water if the rice and veggies are not covered. I like to make a stewy soup for the dogs. If you like it more like a soup, add more water.

  • A big pot lasts up to three days (six meals) for my pups. You can always make more and freeze it if you have space in the freezer.

If you need another recipe to make use of your frozen food scraps that aren’t great for you dogs, you can check out my recipe for homemade veggie scrap broth here

Pick up the poo with paper bags or just move it straight in the compost bin

It took me a while to figure out the best way to deal with the poo. David Suzuki Foundation has a great post on four responsible ways to keep the doo out of the landfills.

After doing some research on the compostable bags that claim to be environmentally safe, I found a bit of greenwashing. They aren’t really that great for the environment and don’t degrade fast enough (some of them don’t even fully break down!)

Depending on where you live, there are different rules to deal with pet poo. I suggest you either read on the composting website if they compost dog poo or not. I am in PEI where they do compost the dog poop as long as it doesn’t come in a plastic bag or it comes in a bag that has a compostable logo on it. So, as long as you don’t use a plastic bag OR a bag isn’t 100% compostable, it’s all good.

NOTE: Do not compost dog poo in your home compost. There is no way your home compost will reach the necessary temperatures to break down the pathogens in pet feces and it can lead to many problems that can cause health issues for people and spread harmful bacteria to your pets and other animals.

Thrift outdoor pillowcases to change up their bed covers


This is the best well-kept secret of mine. I haven’t bought a new dog bed since 2017 and Rosco destroyed a few in the last few years. It also makes it really easy to clean or replace after a tear or accident instead of going out and spending $$$ on a brand new one.

Make their bed with old pillows, sheets, and fabric from old clothing

Have you seen what’s inside of a dog bed? Either sponge or a bunch of plastic fibers such as polyethylene terephthalate or PET which is made from fossil fuels. These materials aren’t even recyclable, so why bother? Learn more about why polyester is so bad for the environment here. Here is a way better idea. Collect a bunch of old clothing, cut them into small pieces, and fill the dog beds with it.

If in reading this you happen to realize you might be in need of some new sheets, I’ve just connected with an awesome organic home textiles brand that carries 100% pure hemp bed sheets. Delila Home also carries dog beds made from organic cotton and recycled bottles if you want to check them out too.

Save 30% on ALL 100% Hemp Bedsheets & Duvet Covers! USE CODE: EarthDayHemp

Buy bones straight from butchers


If you are looking to give your pet something to chew on, try asking a butcher for some leftover ribs and bones. Sometimes they offer them for free and sometimes for pennies. I am suggesting it because I know how expensive bones are at a dog store. You can also buy antlers that will last for a long time. If your dog prefers to chew toys, be sure to opt for safe, quality, long-lasting ones made out of cleanable materials like silicone.

Choose natural fibers for leashes and toys

When buying your dog accessories, consider choosing natural fabrics such as cotton or hemp. There are so many awesome brands that focus on providing eco-friendly alternatives to plastic materials.

My dogs also love STICKS. They have more fun chasing a stick than anything else.

Make your own doggy toothpaste

If your dog is like Rosco, he/she needs regular toothbrushing to avoid cavities. Try a basic baking soda/water paste blend or an easy DIY recipe like the one below.

Minty Fresh via Modern Dog Magazine

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

  • 1 cube of chicken or beef bullion

  • 3 tablespoons baking soda

  • 6–7 mint leaves

Put ingredients into your food processor and pulse until fully combined. This homemade dog toothpaste mixture will keep for two weeks, stored in an airtight container in your fridge. Use a pea-sized amount.

Buy food and water dishes second hand or sustainably

Trust me, you do not have to pay $100 for dishes that your dogs eat and drinks from. You can find perfectly good bowls at the thrift store. In fact, you are probably more likely to find good quality cute ones than the mass-produced overpriced ones at the pet store. Be sure to check the dishware section as well as the pets, so long as it is easy to clean and sturdy it will get the job done!

If your pet will have one dish to last a long time and you would like something a bit more personalized, consider supporting an independant local seller on etsy.

Invest in your own grooming tools and learn how to groom your pets

grooming your dog

This one is not exactly zero-waste but it definitely saves you tons of money and improves your relationship with your dog. Cutting their nails is actually easy when you have the most delicious treats to bribe them. If the idea of grooming your own pet makes you nervous, consider contacting your local groomer to see if they offer classes or take a course.

Pro tip: use tools they use a nail salon for fake nails to cut your dog’s nails. We were always worried that we would cut too close and hurt the dog but not with this tool.

Buy crates second hand


I strongly recommend getting a crate for your dog. It is like their house, where they feel safe and comfortable. It’s great for training, establishing boundaries with guests or in stressful situations, and helping to avoid separation anxiety. Being such a helpful tool and pet essential, these can get quite expensive depending on the size that you need. Check Facebook marketplace or the local thrift store for second-hand offerings. The metal can easily be sprayed down with a hose and rag before being brought into your home.

There are my tips! Do you have any other great ways you save on waste when caring for your pets? Share them with me in the comments, I am always interested in learning more!

— Claudia

about claudia cotici.jpg

Hey, Claudia here

I am a senior graphic designer, a dog mom, an advocate for a zero-waste lifestyle, climate change, and sustainability. My articles are based on personal experience and well researched to give you the best source of information for all things zero-waste.