By Dr. Becker
Like all living things, our pets have an impact on the planet. Humans have a carbon footprint; pets have a carbon pawprint.
Today is Earth Day and to celebrate, I've collected some great ideas and suggestions from across the Internet to help you observe the day with your furry best friend in mind.
Ways to Go Green With Your Pet From Around the Web
From Dr. Justine Lee and the Pet Health Network:
- If you feed your dog or cat canned pet food, buy the biggest size cans, and be sure to recycle them.
- Save all those plastic bags you bring home from the store to reuse as poop or dirty litterbags.
- If you pick up your dog's poop in your yard, consider doing it just once a week to reduce your plastic bag use.
- When you freshen your pet's drinking water, if there's old water still in the bowl, use it to water your houseplants or garden.
From Pets Welcome:
✓ When getting rid of old towels, blankets, sheets and bath rugs, check with your local shelters and rescue organizations to see if they can use them.
✓ When buying items for your pet, buy earth-friendly products such as all-natural shampoo and toys made from pet-safe recycled materials.
✓ Avoid using pesticides and other toxic chemicals on your lawn and garden.
✓ Instead of buying processed, preserved treats make your own healthy pet treats at home.
✓ After bathing your pet, towel him dry instead of using the blow dryer. Most pets don't love blow dryers anyway, and a gentle toweling while you speak in soothing tones to your furry pal can be a relaxing, bonding experience.
✓ If your animal companion happens to have fins or scales, use timers on the light bulbs in your tank or aquarium.
- Use a natural, biodegradable cat litter.
- Use environmentally-friendly household cleaners.
- Don't overfeed your pet. No. 1, the production of meat, especially beef, takes a big toll on the environment. No. 2, keeping your four-legged family member lean and fit is also an excellent way to keep her healthy. No. 3, slim pets fed the right diet don't produce as much poop.
- Don't buy your pet things he doesn't need and choose products with less packaging.
- Shop for your pet at local businesses. Whenever possible, buy food, treats, toys, beds and other supplies at local farmers markets or from a local company.
From the Dogington Post:
- Use biodegradable poop bags.
- Adopt a homeless pet. Don't support puppy mills or unethical breeders by purchasing a puppy at a pet store or online.
- Volunteer at your local shelter or rescue group to help abandoned pets find new homes.
- Repurpose items around your house as pet toys (example: stray socks).
- Roller blade, bike or walk to the dog part instead of driving.
9 More Ways to Go Green With Your Pet
1. Prevent unplanned litters while preserving your pet's health. About 1.5 million animals are killed in shelters each year in the U.S., and you certainly don't want to add to that number by dropping off an unplanned litter.
Most veterinarians recommend spaying or neutering your pet as a solution, however, this can lead to endocrine imbalances and related diseases. An ovary-sparing spay or vasectomy will accomplish the goal of sterilization and prevent unwanted pregnancies while preserving your pet's endocrine health.
2. Buy in bulk. Although I don't advocate buying giant bags of dry pet food, I do recommend stocking up on other bulk products when possible. This helps cut down on packaging and trips to the store.
3. Compost your dog's poop. It's important to pick up after your dog because feces left in the environment can pollute ground and surface water and transmit parasites and infectious disease.
You can compost dog poop instead of throwing it in the trash, and when done correctly, composting destroys pathogens and produces compost that can improve the soil in your garden.
Dog waste compost should not be used on vegetables or other crops you plan to eat, but it can be used just about anywhere else.
4. Use compostable poop bags. If you're not composting your dog's waste, choose compostable poop bags in lieu of the plastic versions. You can also repurpose small paper bags. There are even flushable, compostable bags available, and these may present one of the best solutions of all.
5. Choose reusable supplies. Reusable items can keep countless pounds of waste out of landfills each year. If you use puppy pads, choose the machine-washable kind instead of disposable. Choosing collars and leashes made from sustainable organic fibers, like hemp.
6. Recycle as much as possible. Pet food cans are usually recyclable and so are many types of plastic containers. You can also look for pet supplies sold in recyclable bags or those made from recycled materials.
7. Make your own pet toys. Many items around your home can be used to make DIY pet toys. Your dog might like to chew on a plastic water bottle wrapped in a t-shirt or sock.
Or try placing a few treats inside a gallon milk jug and let your dog figure out how to get them out (supervised, of course, and not for heavy chewers that might chew through the plastic). Cats tend to find cardboard toilet paper roll fun to bat around, or a crumpled ball of paper, a pen, a ping pong ball, gift bows or the plastic ring from a milk jug.
8. Take advantage of cuddles in the winter. When the temperatures dip, you may be able to turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees and cuddle up with your furry family member for warmth instead. That's why the coldest nights used to be called "three-dog nights."
9. Ditch that foam-filled (i.e. toxic) pet bed and invest in an organic, all natural pet bed. Research shows foam is contaminated with flame retardants, such as PBDEs, which are endocrine-disrupters.