The importance of sustainability is thankfully no longer an afterthought these days. For so many people, doing our small part to reduce our impact on the planet has become a focal point of our lives. Doing our part to reduce impact, of course, extends into our pet parenting.

Choosing sustainable dog food and treats—crafted with increasingly popular alternative proteins like cricket protein and spirulina for dogs—is one way you and your furry family member can help the environment. 

Luckily, brands like Chippin have made it easier than ever for pet parents to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle. Read on to learn more about sustainable dog food and treats and to see if Chippin could be right for your family.

Sustainable Dog Food and Treats

While many pet parents may be unaware, our pets’ diets have a large impact on the environment. Farm-raised animals and sources of traditional proteins (like chicken, beef, and lamb) used in the industrial manufacture of pet foods and treats can have adverse effects on the environment, with top concerns among researchers including “emissions of greenhouse gases, farmland topsoil loss, and the pollution, depletion, and the disruption of global water resources.” (1)

Sustainable dog food and treats are made with alternative proteins—sourced from plants (tree nuts, peanuts, and edible seeds), microbials (like spirulina), insects (crickets, flies, or mealworms), and sustainably raised animals—that can help reduce environmental impact.

The environmental benefits of these alternative protein sources for dogs include the potential to reduce carbon footprint, conserve energy, and preserve land and water resources. These alternative proteins also have nutritional value, as they provide necessary fats, amino acids, and omega-3s, among other nutrients. And specific proteins serve as a great option for pets with allergies to traditional animal-based proteins. 

Can Dogs Eat Crickets?

Pet parents may be hesitant to incorporate insect proteins into their pet’s diet, but cricket protein is nutritious for your canine companion. Cricket protein contains as much as three times more protein than beef, provides a source of omega-3s, can aid with digestion, and features numerous essential amino acids. Additionally, the manufacture of cricket protein uses less land, less water, and emits less methane than farm-raised animals.

Can Dogs Have Spirulina?

Spirulina is an organism that grows in both fresh and saltwater, a type of cyanobacteria that’s most referred to as blue-green algae. Like cricket protein for dogs, spirulina for dogs is considered a superfood with numerous benefits, including being a rich source of vegan protein, vitamins, and antioxidants that benefit both body and mind. Harvested in a closed-loop, nutrient recycling system, the manufacture of spirulina-infused treats has a minimal environmental impact.

What Is Chippin?

Chippin is a pet treat and food company devoted to environmental advocacy, with a suite of eco-friendly food products made in the United States. The company’s mission is to help pet parents reduce their pet’s “carbon pawprint,” delivering them treats that taste good and do right by the planet.

“Chippin is all about ‘chipping in’ and doing good for pets and the planet,” says Co-Founder Haley Russell. “The journey started when I could not find a high quality, delicious, and planet friendly food for my dog. When I realized that our 180 million U.S. pets, if considered their own country, would rank an estimated fifth in global meat consumption, I saw this a major environmental issue, too.”

Thus, Chippin was born in late 2019. Using powerful protein-packed superfoods—like cricket protein and spirulina—as a base, the company has formulated four delicious dog treat options designed for supplemental feeding or as a meal topper that pack a powerful nutritional punch. 

“Our proteins and products are all science-backed,” says Russell. “We conducted extensive testing and consulted with board-certified veterinarians, PhDs, and pet parents. Cricket protein and spirulina are two proteins that are highly digestible, omega-3 rich, and tasty.”

Chippin also recently added a highly digestible daily food that combines wild-caught silver carp with nutrient-rich ancient grains, fruits, vegetables, and essential vitamins and minerals. 

Beyond nutritional value, the company touts its sustainable ingredients—sourced from small- to medium-sized eco-friendly farms and local fishermen—as truly helping to reduce environmental impact.

“The protein in pet food is a key driver of industry water usage and greenhouse gas emissions,” says Russell. “Protein from crickets is a humane and Earth-friendly source of omega-3 rich protein and prebiotic fiber that uses 80-plus percent fewer resources than beef or chicken. Spirulina is a clean vegan algae that contains 55 percent protein and is ecologically grown in a closed loop nutrient recycling system.”

Silver carp is not only an omega-3-rich fish option, it’s also a zero-input local protein source. By fishing for silver carp—an overpopulated fish in the U.S.—it helps restore wildlife biodiversity.

Chippin Dog Treats: Features

Chippin stands apart from other pet food companies that sell alternative protein-based products by truly leaning in on its sustainability-oriented mission. Chippin is packaged in a fun, vibrant yellow food pouch with pet eco-friendly messaging. The packaging used is all from consumer-recycled material, which you can tell by the way it crinkles more than “virgin” plastic packaging—something the company embraces. And even the shape of the treats—round spheres—seems emblematic of the Earth the product is helping to preserve. 

Chippin’s use of all-natural ingredients to accompany its protein-packed superfoods— including oats, flaxseed, fruits, and vegetables—speaks directly to its sustainability positioning, but also makes clear the actual benefits of use for your pet.

Chippin Dog Treat Flavors

Chippin’s dog treats come in four different flavors, and feature formulations using a mix of the brand’s preferred superfoods (spirulina and crickets) and all-natural fruits, vegetables, oats, and flax seed. Flavor options include: 

  • Antioxidant: A formula featuring oats (which aid skin support), bananas (that provide potassium and vitamin B6), cricket protein, and blueberries (for antioxidants and vitamin C)
  • Superfood: A combination of oats, peanut butter, crickets, and pumpkin (antioxidant rich and for help with digestive support)
  • Smokehouse BBQ: A distinct pet-friendly flavor profile, made from a formula of oats, pumpkin, crickets, and carrots (a source of vitamin A)
  • Spirulina Dailies: A vegan-friendly formula from a combination of spirulina protein, oats, kale, flax seed, and carrots

Chippin dog treats are available online at their website—with nationwide shipping across the contiguous U.S. and D.C., and at select brick and mortar retailers, including some Petco locations. For a full list of available stores carrying Chippin, check out their store locator.

Putting Chippin Dog Treats to the Test

As a pet parent, I’m always on the lookout for interesting foods and treats for our rescue dog, Wally, to try out. Recently, we’ve also become increasingly aware of our own family’s impact on the environment and have been seeking ways to reduce our carbon footprint. We were excited to try out Chippin when the time came, as it would give us an opportunity to try something new but also take a small action to reduce our environmental impact.  

With Wally, we typically incorporate new items slowly over the course of a few days, giving him standalone snacks to fill the gap between larger meals. With Chippin dog treats, we took a similar approach, serving the treats individually as a reward following outside activity.  

Admittedly, I was curious how cricket protein and spirulina would go over, as I had never considered them for Wally before. But after giving him a taste of all four flavors that Chippin has to offer, and seeing how much he enjoyed them, I’m thoroughly convinced of their benefits.

Wally has had a wide variety of dog treats—from dental bones to flavorful biscuits—but his enthusiasm for these treats after a single taste was pretty incredible. And after a few days of these cleaner treats, he even seemed to have more energy than I’ve seen before. 

Things We Like

  • Chippin’s products are well-made, and easy to use. Chippin dog treats were built for easy distribution and were very easy to incorporate into our pet’s regular routine. They’re not messy at all, and simple to serve. And while we chose to give Wally these treats as a standalone snack, they could easily be broken up and used as a meal topper. 
  •  We’re a fan of Chippin’s mission. Chippin’s dedication to sustainability and environmental causes is admirable. Beyond their eco-friendly packaging and ingredient sourcing, the brand goes out of its way to support animal rescues and environmental justice nonprofits nationwide. For example, in April 2021, the brand opted to donate $5 for every Chippin order to Climate Justice Alliance and a variety of dog rescue organizations. 

Things to Consider

  • We’d love to see Chippin’s product portfolio grow. Chippin’s current flavor offerings are great, but we’d love to see the brand grow and offer even more! And potentially extend beyond individual disc-shaped treats and into other shapes/formats. They must have read our minds, because they recently added the silver carp daily food!
  • Since it’s already recycled plastic, Chippin’s packaging is not recyclable itself. Chippin’s packaging already uses pre-recycled material, which contributes to reducing overall waste in landfills, but it means that its packages are not able to be recycled again. 

Chippin: Our Verdict

Sustainability and living a greener life should be at the forefront of our own lives—and that includes how we care for our pets. And for pet parents looking to reduce their environmental impact, Chippin is definitely a worthwhile purchase—even if you are hesitant at first at the thought of adding cricket protein or spirulina to your dog’s diet. Beyond its environmental impact, thanks to the use of sustainably-sourced alternative proteins, Chippin is a high-quality, delicious-tasting product that dogs of all ages and sizes can wholeheartedly enjoy.