[Images above: right from Care2.com; left from RealExposure.wordpress.com]
After I got my amazing mini wiener dog, Keith Richards, I realized that being green with a pet can be quite difficult. Our first week together saw the depletion of my entire stockpile of grocery bags and sandwich baggies, and I was going to the store for paper towels every other day. I was using some very unnatural solutions for very natural problems, and it was filling up my garbage cans with non-biodegradable waste. If I wanted to preserve my carbon footprint (and Keith’s carbon paw print), I’d have to rethink my doggie-mommy habits. Here are some ideas that I found to help us all be greener pet owners!
Keep reading for green pet tips!
1. The #1 Green Rule of Pet Ownership: Spay or neuter your little ball of fur. The most responsible and eco-friendly thing you can do for your pet and our planet is to make sure the unwanted pet population does not increase. Your pet will be happier and healthier in the long run, and you can rest easy that you’ve done your part in helping our environment. Listen to Bob Barker!
2. What Goes In: Always buy your pets organic, all-natural food, and filter their water. It’s a bit more expensive, but totally worth it. Your little guy will benefit from all the natural goodness, and you have peace of mind that you’re not feeding your pet dyes, chemicals, pesticides, and bacteria. To save a little cash, try cooking for your fuzzy squeeze! ThePoop.com has an outstanding array of pet recipes you can whip up in your own kitchen. Here’s one Keith loves, and it’s vegetarian for those of you with veggie pets!
Ingredients: 1 egg, beaten; 1/3 cup applesauce; 1 cup cooked veggies (any can be used suck as zucchini, peas carrots, potatoes, etc.) mashed or grated; 1 cup cooked rice; 3/4 cup grated cheese; 1 tbsp brewers yeast
Directions: Mix all ingredients well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm. Cool. Store in the fridge or freezer.
3. What Comes Out: This seems like a dilemma, but Doggie Dooley has it all figured out! These inexpensive mini-septic tanks are not only eco-friendly, but they are also easy to use. Basically, the Doogie Dooley is a galvanized steel bucket (or pyramid, depending on your style) with a plastic top that you place in a hole in your yard. You fill up the Dooley with water, enzymes (they provide), and waste (you provide). The enzymes will treat the waste, and the purified liquid will seep out into your lawn helping your grass grow. That’s puppy power in action!
If you’ve got a furry feline, use cat litter made from recycled materials. Strips of newspaper work for many cats, or if they are particular, make sure the organic litter they use is manufactured locally.
When you’re on the go, try Bio Bag’s line of 100% recyclable, biodegradable waste baggies for dogs and cats! They are just as convenient as sandwich or grocery bags, but 100% more green!
4. Play Time: Bark for Peace has a great idea – making puppy pull toys out of old sweaters! This is something you can try yourself. Round up an old sweater (100% wool or cotton), cut into strips, braid, and knot the ends. Find your pooch, and start the tug-of-war! Old socks work well for this, too. Also check out Make-and-Build-Dog-Stuff.com for more homemade ideas.
Making green cat toys is a cinch. Cats adore cardboard boxes, so simply turn over that old shoe box, cut a little entrance door, and voila–hours of fun! Also, try making catnip pouches out of old sweaters or jeans (only 100% cotton or wool). Cut sweaters into fun shapes, stuff with catnip, and sew closed.
(Images above from OliveGreenDog.com)
5. Bling: There are tons of organic pet retailers out there, but our favorite is Olive Green Dog. Hemp dog and cat collars, 100% organic cotton tees, silicone cat food mats, and so much more in stylish colors and mod designs. Who says your green pet can’t be fashionable?
Not a pet owner…
…but thinking about it? Pets are amazing, and if you think you’re ready to add one to your life, why not go for a ‘recycled’ one? There are so may animals out there that could use a little love. Just visit your local shelter (we recommend adopting from the shelters that have to euthanize and donating to the ones that don’t), point to the cutest little one you find, and give it a new home! You won’t regret it.
If you are looking for a particular breed or specific type of animal, try rescue organizations. The American Kennel lists various breed rescue groups, from the Alaskan Malamute Assistance League to the Whippet Rescue and Placement organization.
Some final thoughts…
If you’re really serious about going green with your pets, make sure to keep pet breeds that are appropriate to your environment. Heavy-coated cats and dogs are best in northern climates, and short-coated breeds in the south. Avoid exotic or wild-caught pets. For each one of those who made the trip safely to you, several more died along the way. Also, their native environments suffer as a result of their removal. Always keep your pets lean and strong, and avoid overfeeding. Patronize small, space-efficient vets if possible.
Any other suggestions? Let us know! Happy pet greening!