From greener grooming and natural food, to cleaning up after Fido and Fluffy’s “accidents” and ridding them of pests, you can reduce your pet’s carbon paw print and improve their health and quality of life. Here, I’ve put together nine tips for caring for your four-legged family members while also caring for the environment.
1. Adopt from a shelter. There are thousands of deserving, adoptable pets at shelters and animal rescues just waiting for a loving home. Adopting from a shelter means you won’t be supporting abusive practices like puppy mills and contributing to overpopulation. If you’re conducting your search for the ideal pet friend online, check out pet adoption sites like Petfinder, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society of America.
2. Have your pet spayed or neutered. Pet overpopulation takes a major toll on our environment and animal welfare. According to the ASPCA, 3 to 4 million companion animals are euthanized each year. Estimates for stray animals living in the US are staggering — upwards of 70 million cats alone! Do your part by spaying or neutering your pet.
3. Keep cats inside. Cats are one of the most damaging forces on ecosystems. They kill as many as 3.7 billion songbirds annually, not to mention mammals, amphibians and other sensitive wildlife. Be sure to keep your cats indoors.
4. Buy healthy food. Conventional pet foods have been known to contain some pretty nasty ingredients including pesticides, hormones, animal byproducts, and antibiotics. A massive pet food recall from 2007 was responsible for killing thousands of dogs and cats. Yes, organic pet food can get pretty pricey, but healthy diets means fewer vet visits and medical bills. In my opinion, the best — and most economically friendly — one is Tuffy’s Natural Planet Organics dry dog food. It works out to 15 cents an ounce or $2 a pound.
5. De-ice safely. Instead of using rock salt to clear your sidewalks in the winter, opt for a pet-, kid-, and environmentally-friendly de-icing alternative. Safe Paw offers a great salt-free ice melting option that won’t harm pets or kids if accidentally ingested.
6. Get rid of fleas and ticks naturally. Use a fine-toothed flea comb to remove fleas and don’t forget to dust and vacuum regularly. Another way to keep fleas off pets is to add garlic and brewer’s yeast to their meals, which make them taste bad to bugs. Many such products are sold in pet supply stores. And check out Wellness Mama’s DIY tips on naturally getting rid of fleas and ticks.
7. Use biodegradable poop bags. Plastic bags take forever to decompose in landfills, and many of those bags end up in our waterways and oceans. Buy biodegradable bags instead. Gorilla biodegradable pet poop bags are the best and work out to only 1 cent per bag! Want to go the extra mile? Consider composting your pet’s poop in a pet waste composter.
8. Buy in bulk and recycle. Buying in bulk the pet supplies you use most often will cut down on packaging waste and car trips. And just as you would recycle your own food containers, make sure to add your pet’s empty cans, bags and bottles to your sorting bins instead of the trash can.
9. Buy green ID tags. Opt for a pet tag made from recycled materials like aluminum, steel, or silver. Check out Dog Tag Art for some creative, eco-friendly tags.
Do you have your own suggestions to add to this list of pet friendly tips? Let me know what else works best for you.