We all love our pets and often treat them like family. Nevertheless, it’s helpful to remember that our pets have an environmental impact too. Where they come from, how many times they breed, what they eat and how their waste is eliminated has a direct effect on the quality of all of our lives and the earth. It’s easy to become more conscious about our choices when it comes to our pets; here are some tips:
- Everybody poops! Using biodegradable bags to collect your dog's waste means they will decompose in just months. Ordinary plastic bags can take decades to decompose in landfills. Conventional kitty litter is especially problematic because it is filled with chemicals that are harmful for the environment. Clumping cat litter uses clay that is strip-mined (which is bad for our planet). Look for environmentally friendly alternatives such as litter made of plant sources or recycled newspaper.
- Feed your pet natural or organic pet food for optimal health and well-being. These foods provide nutrients which are minimally processed and do not contain artificial colors or other harmful additives. Organic pet foods also avoid the use of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically engineered ingredients.
- Try recycled toys for your pet. Many toys for pets are made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers. Make your own pet toys out of old socks and rope or a scratching post from recycled cardboard. Have fun and get creative; look on the internet for projects you can do with your kids. Giving homemade toys to your pet can help protect them from dangerous chemicals in plastic chew toys. And they won’t have to be shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to get to your pet!
- Neuter your pet. This seems like a no-brainer. Pet overpopulation is a real problem—we know shelters are filled to capacity; only one in four shelter dogs finds a permanent home. When it comes time for your next pet, adopt from a shelter.
- Choose safe flea and tick treatments. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), some flea control products pose a cancer risk to children up to 1,000 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable limits. Keep these chemicals off your children and pets fur by finding safer treatments. The NRDC’s website has more info: www.nrdc.org. For example, you can also make a natural flea solution at home. Start with a base of castile soap and add 10 drops of lavender, five drops of eucalyptus, five drops of rosemary and five drops of cajuput oil.
Every action towards healthier, environmentally friendly behaviors helps reduce the damage that’s been done to the land, water and atmosphere and reinforces that change is not only inevitable, but can also make our lives better. Let’s keep in mind how our pets’ lives can be more natural and healthy too.