Tortoises have been ranked the most “eco-friendly” pet, while dogs and cats are among the “worst offenders when it comes to damaging the environment”, according to a recent study by UK-based price comparison website, Money.co.uk.
The study looked at the impact each species of pet has on the environment by scoring them across eight different factors.
Experts at money.co.uk, looked at “each animal’s diet, water consumption, what sort of accessories they tend to need, and if chemicals are used in their grooming or cleaning”.
They also examined each pet’s likely energy usage based on if they required powered lamps, heaters or filers, in addition to examining their possible transportation impact and if they were likely to require pharmaceutical treatments.
The study found that pets which are mainly fed meat, including dogs and cats, have a “greater impact due to the nature of meat cultivation so they were awarded just one point”.
Vegetarian pets which eat a largely unprocessed diet were awarded the full five points.
The tortoise came out as a winner with a score of 37 ‘eco points’ out of the maximum 40.
Researchers said this was” due to its simple vegetarian diet and low need for plastic accessories or impactful treatments”.
Heading towards the bottom of the eco pets league table, cats could manage only 13th place on 25 points. It fared poorly due to its “meaty diet, large accessory market and likely requirements for pharmaceutical treatments”.
At the bottom of the league table, dogs and horses were found to both have a significant impact on the environment but for different reasons.
Dogs scored poorly in the diet category thanks to their “processed red meat intake while horses and ponies scored highly thanks to a vegetarian diet of grass and grains”.
The research follows a report which shows that as many as “one million additional dogs may have been purchased by UK families during lockdown”.
Ben Gallizzi, energy expert at money.co.uk, said: “Britain is a nation of pet lovers, but if we’re to tackle the Earth’s climate crisis we may need to rethink our relationships with animals.
“Cats and dogs are hugely popular but their red meat diet, along with several other factors, means they have a huge impact on the environment, particularly as there are more than 20 million of them in the UK.”
He added: “While a tortoise may not be quite as cuddly as a Labrador, its veggie diet and slow metabolism means it is far kinder to the planet.”