If your pet is a part of your family, shouldn’t he be as green as you are? With a few simple changes, you can reduce your environmental paw print and create a healthy, happy and sustainable companion.
CHOOSE A HEALTHY PET FOOD
To choose a healthy food for your pet, research the production methods and values of your pet food provider. Avoid brands that contain by-products, hormones, genetically modified ingredients, chemicals, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial flavors and artificial colors. Real meats and vegetables should be the main ingredients. All pet foods should be certified by the American Association of Feed Control Officials, an organization which ensures compliance with national requirements for pet food standards. Visit The Dog Food Project to learn more.
Or create your own pet food. A healthy balance generally contains 40 percent protein such as beef or chicken, 30 percent vegetables and 30 percent carbohydrates such as oatmeal or brown rice. For recipes, explore books such as Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Your Dog by Rick Woodford. Consult with your veterinarian to find the ideal balance for your pet.
CONSIDER ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERRED ACCESSORIES
Choose pet toys and accessories such as leashes, collars, beds and dishes that are created with recycled content and biobased/natural materials such as organic cotton, hemp or corn plastic. Avoid petroleum based plastics and those that may contain bisphenol A or BPA. BPA is a chemical compound that may contribute to health concerns such as neurological disorders, cancer and obesity. Plastics marked with the numerals 3 and 7 can potentially contain BPA. Look for BPA Free on labels.
When you purchase dishes for your pet, stainless steel bowls are the most sustainable choices. Ceramic bowls are a sustainable option as long as they are marked Lead Free.
You can create your own pet toys with common reclaimed materials. Dogs will enjoy a recycled sock filled with an empty plastic bottle. Tie strands of scrap yarn to a hanger to create a fun toy for cats.
COMMIT TO PROPER PET HYGIENE
Dispose pet wastes properly. If pet wastes are not handled in a sanitary manner, they can infiltrate the water supply and create pollution.
Choose biodegradable business bags. Also, choose naturally derived cat litters. Clay cat litters can contain minerals that are extracted by strip mining, an activity that is detrimental to the environment. In addition, clay cat litters are not biodegradable. In fact, of the estimated ten million tons of pet wastes that travel to waste repositories every year, two million tons are non-biodegradable cat litters. Furthermore, clay cat litters often contain silica dust, which can be detrimental to the respiratory health of pets and pet parents. Environmentally preferred cat litters are produced with materials such as recycled newspapers, pine, wheat and corn.
Clean pet accidents naturally with environmentally sound materials. Use baking soda to remove excess moisture, and clean the affected area with diluted vinegar to effectively eliminate bacteria and odor. If a stain or odor remains, apply lemon juice to the affected area for 20 minutes and then rinse with water.
When bathing your pet, consider natural grooming materials and flea care products that do not contain parabens, sulfates, artificial dyes, artificial fragrances, phosphates and harsh chemical pesticides. Create an organic flea repellant by placing one drop of citronella essential oil, one drop of cedar wood essential oil, one drop of lavender essential oil and one drop of white thyme essential oil onto your dog’s collar. These oils will deter fleas for one week. Create a natural flea shampoo for dogs by combining one cup of liquid castile (vegetable based) soap and one cup of distilled water with one teaspoon of jojoba oil and five drops of peppermint essential oil in a bottle. Wash your dog as normal. Do not use essential oils on cats. According to veterinarian Dr. Richard Pitcairn, an herbal flea powder with rosemary is an effective and gentle flea remedy for cats. Flea combs are essential yet sustainable tools in your arsenal against pests.
PRACTICE THE THREE Rs
Consider the responsibilities of pet ownership prior to commitment. By purchasing or adopting an animal, you are commiting to care for that pet for the remainder of its life. Individuals who are not fully committed to pet parenthood often abandon their pets or donate them to a shelter, thus increasing the population of animals that can tax our resources.
Choose your pet carefully to ensure a successful experience. Consider a recycled animal and adopt from a shelter. Fort Bragg has a pet adoption facility on Reilly Road across from the Directorate of Public Works and just prior to the entrance to Pope Field. Call 396.6018 for information. There are many adoption facilities and shelters in Fayetteville and the surrounding region as well.
Reduce the pet population by spaying or neutering your pet upon your veterinarian’s recommendations. By humanely controlling the pet population, you can benefit your pet’s health and reduce strains on the environment.
Recycle clean pet food cans with your other steel cans.
Recycle used pet items by donating to animal shelters or veterinary clinics.