Fluffy and Rover don’t know much about climate change, so it’s up to you to take the lead and be a green pet owner.
Our pets are consumers too, and the food, toys and blankets you give them impact the environment as much as your own, human-friendly products do. In fact, New Zealand scientists Robert and Brenda Vale claim that one medium-sized dog causes more environmental damage than an SUV. Instead of running from the issue with your tail between your legs, take some of these simple steps to green your dog or cat.
1. Go veggie (at least sometimes). It takes far more resources to raise cattle and other livestock than plants, and most pet food is especially meat-heavy. While the idea of vegetarian pets is controversial; WebMD explains that dogs can often be healthy on meatless diets with careful planning and supplementation, but cats don’t fare as well without animal products. Still, just participating in Meatless Monday with your pets, or buying peanut butter treats instead of beef jerky, can make a difference.
2. Skip the breeder. You already know that adopting is the most humane way to pick up a puppy or kitten. (You do, don’t you?) Well, it turns out that cruel puppy mills—which often house their animals in filthy, torturous conditions—tend to overbreed, placing extra strain on the environment. Head to the adoption shelter or check the classifieds to save a pet’s life—it’s just good karma.
3. Buy organic (and humane). You know all those nasty hormones, pesticides and antibiotics that come with your average burger? Well most pet food comes from the same factory-farmed cows, chickens and fish that eco-minded consumers are afraid to touch themselves (though from far more unsavory parts). And these days, there’s simply no reason to compromise. You can make your own dog food with organic, free-range meats, brown rice and veggies, or buy organic brands like Newman’s Own Organics and Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Organic formulas.
4. De-flea naturally. The ingredients in many commercial flea medicines were derived from chemical warfare experiments, according to Mother Earth News. Chemicals like carbamares and organophosphates can make your best friend nauseated, and even cause convulsions. Skip the toxins and look for natural products with diatomaceous earth, made from fossilized algae. Brand names include Nature’s Wisdom, Thomas Laboratories and GreenSense. It also helps to keep your home clean and vacuumed, emptying the vacuum cleaner after each use.
5. Get Chemical-Free Toys and Accessories. With the wide assortment of green pet goods on the market today, you have no excuse to keep buying the same toxic plastics and chemically-treated blankets and collars. In the best pet stores, shelves are stocked with organic catnip, organic collars and leashes, biodegradable waste bags and hemp toys. If your local pet shop doesn’t offer any of these products, look no further than your computer. Online vendors like Vitacost, Only Natural Pet Store and Organic Dogs and Cats are there to help. Even big chains like Petco have some green options.