by Brigitt Hauck
April 22, 2010
Pets can help you green the earth too. Make your own pet toys and select eco-friendly products to clean up after them, for instance. Follow these tips to help pets live a healthier, happier life and help the environment at the same time.
1. Clean it up
Animal waste is bad for the environment and may contain bacteria that can contaminate water supply, said Kelsie Dolezal, a certified veterinary technician at The Chicago Center for Veterinary Medicine. Always clean up your pup’s waste. Flushing a dog’s waste down the toilet is the best option, but biodegradable or compostable bags can be used when flushing isn’t an option. Cat waste can be difficult to dispose of if cats have toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite, which can pose a health threat to humans, she said. Put those pesky, old newspaper sleeves to use as gloves when cleaning up after your kitty and seal their litter in bags too.
2. Recycle and reuse
If your pet has a lot of toys, think twice before buying a new one. “Put half of them away and then switch them out and all of the sudden your pet has a new toy again,” Dolezal said. Many household items can be easily transformed into fun toys that mirror those sold in stores. For pups, make a tug of war toy by stretching an old sock over a tennis ball and tie two knots, one on each end. For kittens, turn an old box upside down, cut holes in the top and put food inside. Another creative trick she recommends is to put food in an empty plastic bottle. Your pet will knock the bottle around to get the treat.
Pet bedding can also be re-stuffed with old pillows and blankets laying around the house. Even making the choice to donate old leashes, collars, bedding and towels to a shelter instead of throwing them out is a step towards being greener.
3. Chow time
“It’s the same way as it is with us—you are what you eat,” Dolezal said. Feed your pets natural, organic foods that are minimally processed and exclude harsh ingredients like pesticides, antibiotics and artificial ingredients and preservatives. Begin paying attention to the labels on pet food, said Brenda Lang, owner of Green Dog Inc, an eco-friendly canine care service. “More than just being preventative against the negative effects of non-environmentally-friendly products, the benefits of a diet with high-quality, organic ingredients are seen in the long run, with fewer trips to the veterinarian and a better quality of life,” she said.
“Many local and organic foods are readily available, and it’s not difficult to make your own food,” she said. But, always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet.
4. Be conscious of cleaning products
Home care products can be toxic to pets. If a pet ingests most commercial cleaners, lawn care chemicals or pest control pesticides, it could be fatal, Lang said. For indoor and outdoor maintenance, consider using non-toxic products which are also pet-friendly. In the winter, there are eco-friendly de-icers are gentler on pups paws, she said. Even environmentally conscious shampoos and flea control products are available for pets. Many pet-safe and non-toxic products sold in stores can easily be made for less than the cost of commercial cleaners, so being green won’t break the bank.