Furry, four-legged creatures enrich our lives with their unconditional love. Some people are looking to add a pet to the family, while others have a special furry family member in their household already. Whether you’re looking for a new pet or have one already, why not take some simple steps to make your pet healthier and more sustainable? Making small changes over time is less stressful than trying to change the world in one day. It’s easy to be green!

1) Adopt a Pet from a Shelter. Adopting a shelter cat or dog is the ultimate in sustainability and recycling. Oftentimes breeders are thinking of one goal: breed as many purebred animals as possible for income. Over the decades this has resulted in overbreeding, inbreeding, overcrowding, and lack of proper care of many animals. Instead of buying a dog or cat from a breeder, consider one of the unwanted animals in shelters across the US. Each day shelters are overrun with dogs and cats in need of a good home. Shelter animals make good pets! Why buy when you can adopt? Don’t forget the ID chip and pet tag!

2) Spay or neuter your pet. Thousands of puppies and kittens are born each day in the US, adding to the homeless pet population. Spaying and neutering your dog or cat helps them live longer, healthier lives while preventing unwanted puppies and kittens.

3) Contain your pets to protect them and native wildlife. Always keep your dog on a leash when outside, and keep your feline indoors. Cats are the biggest bird killers, surpassed only by habitat destruction. Even wind turbines don’t kill as many birds as cats. While you may dismiss cat-related bird-mortality rates as no big deal, domestic cats do have the advantage. Unlike wild predators, these feisty felines are well fed, well rested, and have built in weapons.

Indoor cats are safer and live longer due to the dangers of cars, predators, disease, and other hazards found outside. Consider a cat enclosure as a good way to compromise if kitty needs to feel the grass under her paws.

4) Be #1 in #2! Be sure to scoop pet poo into biodegradable poo bags. Pet feces can pollute water and spread diseases and parasites. For kitty, avoid clumping clay litter, which contains a silica dust and other chemicals that can get into kitty’s lungs and on her fur, which is bad for kitty. Eco-friendly cat litters made from newspaper, corn, or wheat are a safer, healthier alternative. Want to go a step further? Consider composting your pet’s poo in a pet waste composter. It biodegrades naturally and prevents that waste from heading to the landfill.

5) Use natural pet-care and cleaning products. Look for gentler, non-toxic options for washing your pets or cleaning up the occasional pet mess.

6) Pets are a long term commitment, choose wisely. Remember, that snuggly baby bunny or chick at Easter, or the puppy under the tree at Christmas will eventually grow from fun-sized to full-sized, along with the time and money needed to take care of them. Be sure that you’re ready to take on that commitment over the long term before taking the plunge.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll be on your way to sustainable pet ownership! Your pets, and Mother Nature, will thank you! For more information on sustainability, please view our Facebook page at


Husky Pup

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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The Dog Days of Summer

Article by Jonelle Kimbrough – Fort Bragg Environmental Management

The waning days of August can create some of the most intense heat and humidity of the season. Just as we must protect ourselves from certain health concerns in the summer, we must also protect our pets from the potentially harmful effects of soaring temperatures. In these dog days of summer, a healthy pet is a happy pet.

Dog with Hose


Exposure to excessive heat can be detrimental to the health of all pets, but certain pets are more susceptible to the adverse effects of heat. Breeds with short, wide noses (snub noses) such as the bulldog, the Boston terrier, the pug, the Pekingese and the Persian cat are more prone to heat exposure. Obese pets, elderly pets, very young pets, pets that are not acclimated to hot weather, pets with long or heavy coats and pets with cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses are more vulnerable to heat as well.

For a cool and healthy pet, always supervise your dog or cat to ensure that he has constant access to shade and shelter.

Provide your pet with constant access to clean, fresh water as well.

Provide other means of cooling for your pet. If your pet enjoys water, allow him to wade in a shallow pool – as long as you closely supervise him and there is no risk of drowning. Use a water mister or sprinkler to refresh your pet.

Never leave your pet in a confined space with limited ventilation, and never leave your pet in a vehicle. If the ambient temperature is 70 degrees, the temperature in a vehicle can reach 104 degrees in only 30 minutes. If your pet cannot accompany you to your final destination, he will be more comfortable and much safer at home.

Use fans to increase air circulation when your pet is in the house.

Limit walks and exercise for your pet when temperatures are at their peak, usually between 10 AM and 6 PM. Walk your pet and encourage exercise when temperatures have decreased.

Limit the use of muzzles. Pets pant to cool themselves, and muzzles can severely restrict your pet’s ability to pant.


If your pet is exhibiting the following symptoms, he may be suffering from heatstroke.

– Confusion, anxiety and refusal to obey commands
– Vomiting
– Diarrhea
– Darkening of the gums and tongue
– Excessive panting
– Excessive salivating
– Increased heart rate
– Lethargy
– Elevated external and interal temperature
– Decreased motor function, fainting or collapsing

If symptoms of heatstroke are present, immediately remove your pet from the heat. Cool your pet with cool – not cold – water and seek veterinary attention at once. If it is not properly treated, heatstroke can cause neurological damage, muscular damage, cardiovascular damage, respiratory distress, liver failure, kidney failure and even death.


Maintaining the health of your pet’s paws is important. The pads are the only outlets for your pet’s sweat. In addition, your pet’s paws are suspectible to painful burns during the summer. Check your pet’s pads often for signs of burns.

To protect his paws, limit your pet’s exposure to asphalt and concrete in the summer. When the ambient temperature is 77 degrees, asphalt can heat to 125 degrees. At 125 degrees, skin damage can occur within 60 second of exposure. Before you walk your pet on asphalt or concrete, test the temperature by pressing your hand against the surface for seven seconds. If the surface is comfortable for you, it should be comfortable for your pet. However, if your hand is uncomfortable on the surface, you should not walk your pet until temperatures decrease. Or, walk your pet on grass instead.


If your pet is properly groomed, its fur will not trap heat but insulate it from hot temperatures and protect its skin from sunburn. Consult your veterinarian or a professional groomer about the grooming requirements for your breed.

If your pet has a particularly light coat or if he will be exposed to the sun for a prolonged period of time, consider a pet sunscreen. By applying a pet sunscreen to the nose, the ears and other areas with sparse fur, you can prevent sunburn and even skin cancer. Use only a sunscreen that is specially formulated for animals. There are a variety of pet sunscreens available, but as of now, only Epi-Pet Sun Protector has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for dogs and horses. Consult your veterinarian for more information on pet sunscreens.