You might be doing your part for the planet, but what about your dog? While your furry companion might be part of the family, the unfortunate downside to their ownership is the hard toll they take on the environment. While more people are becoming aware of the issues surrounding food, clothes and toys manufactured for humans, the same scrutiny is not true for dogs. Even still, there are plenty of ways you can be a more sustainable pet parent.
You don’t use shampoos and beauty products full of toxic chemicals, so why should your dog? Whenever possible find all-natural items. Not only is it gentler on your dog but on the environment as well. Earthbath is company that takes pet sustainability seriously. They offer several different all-natural shampoos for dogs, including hypo-allergenic ones. Of course, before you switch over, make sure to consult with your veterinarian especially if your dog has sensitive skin. As well, be sure to avoid shampoo that includes tea tree oil as it is toxic to dogs.
What about when your little furball makes a mess in the house? There are some cleaning products you can purchase that are gentle on the environment, but you can also mix up your own at home with items you most likely already have. One of the best ways to get rid of pet odors and stains is a combination of vinegar, water and baking soda. While the scent of vinegar might not be particularly pleasant, it doesn’t leave behind any harmful residue making it safe for you, your pet and the environment.
While you don’t need to buy your dog toys or a bed, it’s hard not to spoil them a little. Since you’re already planning on buying these items, you can just go a step further and go sustainable. Nowadays, there are many toys made from recycled materials or sustainable fibers such as hemp. There are even pet beds made from recycled PET bottles. While your local pet store might not carry these items, you can always go online to find some companies that do offer these solutions. It might cost you a bit more, but you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you are helping the Earth.
For an even more environmentally friendly option, try to find ways to upcycle what you currently have into toys. Your old t-shirts can be braided together for a fun chew toy or fashioned into a cool dog shirt.
While it might not seem like your dog is a poop machine, when combined with the millions of other dogs it definitely adds up to millions of tons. While you might throw it into the trash without a second thought, remember that this poop is likely heading over to landfills. If isn’t cleaned up, it will find its way into the sewer where it finds its way into our water ways. Rather than throw it/leave it and forget it, there’s a much greener alternative – compost. Just make sure you don’t use the compost for your vegetable garden as compost never reaches a high enough temperature to kill pathogens. The safest thing to do is to separate the two compost bins and label them properly so you never mix the two up.
As well, dog urine can also be an excellent source of nitrogen for your garden so long as you make sure to dilute it with some water. Since urine is sterile, you also don’t need to worry about any pathogens. As an added benefit, it can also be added to your regular compost to help accelerate the overall process.
If you’re not up for recycling your dog’s waste, at the very least use biodegradable plastic baggies. These will eventually break down as they’re made from natural ingredients like feathers instead of petroleum.
While smaller dogs don’t eat as much, food production is probably the biggest ecologically footprint your pet has. While the food is generally made from animal byproducts that might otherwise be thrown out, it still takes a lot of energy to raise the livestock in the first place. A lot of standard dog food is what many consider “junk” food due to the fact it is made from these inedibles. The type of food your dog eats greatly affects their overall health and resistance. The better food they get, the healthier they are. If you can afford it, look for dog food that is labeled certified-organic as it must meet strict standards for ingredient production.
Dogs can have a huge impact on native wildlife if left to their own devices. Even if your pooch isn’t one to hunt songbirds or other animals, allowing them to run off leash, especially in areas like wetlands, can lead to the damage of native plants, disruption of nesting birds and other issues. If your dog needs space to run freely, fence up your backyard so they have a safe place to have fun. Not only will you be helping the environment, you’ll also be doing your dog a favor as they will likely live longer.
While it can seem daunting to being a more eco-conscious pet owner, it really isn’t any different from what you are doing in your own life. It is as simple as doing research, reading labels and finding ways to recycle your old items.
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