As an eco-friendly pet owner, you already know a thing or two about reducing your own carbon footprint. But did you know there are moves you can make that will reduce the paw print your precious pet leaves behind too?
These small moves you can make will help you create a more earth-friendly pet experience for your entire family – including your pet.
1) Become a Deliberate Shopper – On Your Pet’s Behalf
Shops are filled with toys, bedding, clothes, and more for pets. Nowadays, you can even buy designer handbags to carry small pets around town in. The big question of the day is do you, or does your pet, really need these things? For the most part, the answer is no. Fido might look outstanding sporting the colors of your favorite soccer team, but he has his own natural colors to wear — and wears them quite well.
It’s not just about clothes, though.
Bedding is great for pets. They love borrowing in and snuggling with warm, comfortable beds. But do pay attention to the list of ingredients in pet bedding. Avoid pet beds that contain triclosan, an antimicrobial ingredient that’s used, reportedly, to keep the beds free of germs. Unfortunately it’s a contaminant that’s showing up in rivers. The big deal about triclosan, according to The Bark, is that it is known to alter hormonal regulations in animals, and has been shown by studies to contribute to the creation of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
Organic Authority warns that pet toys can also be as harmful to your pets as they are to the planet – especially those made of plastic. Skip plastic altogether when possible, and opt for toys that are made of organic materials or make your own. Hemp rope toys are great for dogs to play with, chew on, and even fetch.
The more informed you are about the product you buy for your pet, the better prepared you will be to make choices that are better for the planet and for your pet.
2) Make Your Own Pet Treats
This is one that feels like a tired record to many, but it means that you have no doubt about the ingredients you’re feeding your pet. There is no room for ambiguity when making pet treats from raw ingredients you have in your kitchen.
You can make outstanding dog biscuits with a few ingredients from your pantry, such as whole wheat flour, eggs, beef bouillon, and hot water. All you need to do is dissolve the bouillon granules in the hot water, then add the remaining ingredients to make a dough. Knead three minutes before flouring your surface and rolling the dough until it’s ½ an inch thick. Then cut it into your desired shape and back on a greased cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The full recipe for this and other planet- and pet-friendly dog treats can be found at Green Moxie.
3) Pay Attention to Packaging
Many businesses are beginning to take note of packaging as part of a really big problem for the planet – especially in a consumer-driven society. This also applies to makers of pet products. When you do make purchases, take note of the packaging and look for items that have biodegradable packaging, packaging made of recycled goods or that is recyclable, and those that have very little packaging. This is a small move you can make, when shopping for your precious pets, that will leave smaller and smaller carbon paw prints on the planet.
4) Be Mindful of Waste Elimination
Pet waste removal and disposal is an area that can be improved upon as far as the environment goes. From plastic bags to questionable kitty litter choices, it’s time to pay attention to something that many people try to ignore.
When it comes to your pup’s poop, plastic bags have been the widespread tool of choice among the populace, but there are better options for the planet in the selection of biodegradable bags designed specifically for pet waste.
When it comes to your feline friends, though, there are great debates raging about the right choice for kitty litter. Some believe that the clumping kitty litter, which is the most commonly sold form of kitty litter in the U.S., poses a risk to the planet and the cat. Since silica-based kitty litter must be disposed of without flushing down the toilet in the state of California and should be considered elsewhere, it will eventually find its way into overcrowded landfills.
This makes plant-based litters a more attractive option for pet owners interested in planet friendly options. This kitty litter is biodegradable, though you still should not flush it. In order for this to be an effective tool for planetary good, though, pet owners must be willing to dispose of the feces and the litter in a manner that doesn’t involve landfills or composting.
The other remaining option is to purchase recycled kitty litter. Recycled litter options on the market today include litter made from pine pellets, recycled newspaper, corn, and wheat. Again, disposal is an issue, but since they are already recycled from items that didn’t go to waste, it’s a more environmentally-friendly choice than many others on the market today.
5) Investigate Your Pet Food Bowls
While plastic may present a simple option for pet food bowls, there is the possibility of toxins in the plastic that aren’t good for your pets or the planet. There are two main options that are much better in that regard: stainless steel and ceramic pet food bowls. Both are durable and long lasting, though stainless steel might be better for rowdy pets, and can be found in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate your pet’s needs.
6) Consider a Raw Diet
While humans do not eat animal byproducts, The Washington Post reminds us that dogs have a long genetic history of doing just that.
Consider switching to a raw diet instead of going for premium pet foods that cost more. It just so happens, that it’s also better for the planet as it uses many leftover animal parts mentioned in The Washington Post article listed above.
In fact, many top breeders are turning to raw diets for their animals as a healthier dietary choice. Pet Planet recommends a raw diet for dogs and cats as one that promotes:
Raw diets for pets also rank lower on the glycemic index and have a lower risk of renal damage.
Wondering about the planetary benefits? Raw diets use up resources that would otherwise go to waste and reduces the need to use additional resources for the creation, harvesting, and preparation of the ingredients used to make the food. It does require handling on your part, but the rewards for pet and planet are significant.
7) Use Non-Toxic Pest Control
Pets sometimes bring uninvited friends into your home with them. Fleas and ticks are no fun to have in your household, but many top products on the market today to eliminate them are extremely harmful to the planet. They can also be harmful to your pets and the people who live in your home.
What should you look for?
Look for labels that indicate their flea and tick products are non-toxic and pesticide-free. Also make sure you follow the instructions carefully about use of the product and disposal of the packaging.
Don’t forget the power of prevention. Brush your dog often to check for fleas and ticks, and eliminate the problem at the first sign of trouble instead of waiting for an infestation inside your home before treating.
8) Spay and Neuter
It might not sound like something that would have a huge impact on the planet, yet it does. Animal overpopulation leads to a wide range of problems including feral cat and dog populations, overcrowded animal shelters, and tapped resources to house, and in many instances, eliminate the unwanted animals.
Then there is the waste created by unwanted pets roaming the streets. This waste contaminates groundwater, leading to other planetary problems.
Pet overpopulation is a big problem that isn’t going away until spaying and neutering become the norm rather than the exceptions for pets. It starts with each and every effort.
9) Do Your Homework Before You Get Your Pet
Adoption is one of the greenest pet ownership decision you can make. You’re taking an otherwise unwanted pet, that already exists, and giving it a loving home. Before you adopt, or buy if you just can’t get past the desire to purchase a pet of a specific breed, know the breed you’re getting.
Different pet breeds have different temperaments and genetic predispositions. Take time to learn about the breed, its benefits, characteristics, lifestyle habits, preferences, and tendencies. You need to know the good and the bad to make sure you find a good match for your family and lifestyle.
For instance, the live action movie version of 101 Dalmatians led to a ton of families running out to their nearest Dalmatian breeder and scooping them up to take home on impulse. They were beautiful, highly trained dogs in the movie, and were delightful to watch. Everyone left the theater wanting one, or 101.
Then reality set in and local shelters across the country began seeing a huge influx of purebred Dalmatians that families were giving up because the high spirits of Dalmatians that was so adorable in the film were nearly impossible to keep up with, especially for families with two working parents, after school activities to deal with, and not a lot of time to devote to puppy training, care, and attention for high-spirited animals like Dalmatians.
The moral of the story is: find a pet that matches your personality and lifestyle. It will make you happier, the pet happier, and will result in fewer shelter pets in the aftermath, making the planet happier (and less overcrowded with an unwanted pet population) too.
While this has been touched on above, it deserves its own category. There are so many shelters and rescues that have more pets than they can handle already. These pets need loving homes. Whether they are animals that have been injured and abused in the past, or they are new puppies that were abandoned, there is sure to be a match at any shelter in the country that will be a perfect pet for you.
Adoption solves three problems in one stroke:
1) It helps you find a great companion for your family.
2) It saves an animal from a grisly fate. The fact is that crowding is so widespread in animal shelters today that many have become “high kill” shelters out of necessities such as lack of space and lack of funding.
3) It provides an animal with a family to love.
Most animals need a job. Whether that job is companionship, herding, tracking, or simply pleasing their owners, they need to feel useful and to be able to share their unconditional love with a family. What better gift can you give the planet, your family, and the pet you adopt than that?
Pets mean so much to the families that bring them home. Those tiny paws have a way of walking right into your heart and making themselves at home. They become part of your family adding depth of emotion, laughter, tears, and a boundless amounts of love you all can share. The memories you will make with your pet are precious indeed. Showing your commitment to the planet by reducing your pet’s carbon paw print is a great way to give back to the planet you share with your pet.
Little changes (like those mentioned above) can change the world, one paw print at a time.
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