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Eco-Friendly Pet Care

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corgi puppy enjoying the outdoors wearing a harness and a leash

Within the past few years, people have been taking more care to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, but did you know this can also include eco-friendly pet care? From the food your pet eats to the toys they play with, there are plenty of opportunities to choose a more environmentally-conscience product.

Environmental Care and Pet Parents

When it comes to making a difference for the better with the environment, every little bit helps. Remember that even if each person took just a few steps to reduce their plastic waste, once you multiply that over and over again, the impact can be overwhelming.

Thankfully, there has been an increase in companies taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and be more mindful of the products they use and the waste they produce. It may be worth your time to look into the companies you frequently purchase your cat and dog essentials from—are they doing their part to help protect the planet?

With more companies jumping on board to help put the planet first, this comes as great news to environmentalists and pet parents alike. This means that within the coming years, you will have a continually increasing number of eco-friendly choices when it comes to buying your pet supplies.

If you’re interested in more environmentally friendly pet care, one of the best places to start is looking at your current pet-parenting habits and the products you buy.

Eco-Friendly Pet Toys

One area of your pet’s life that allows a fantastic opportunity to be more eco-friendly is their toys. Some things to keep an eye on include:

  • Quantity. Although it can be incredibly tempting to spoil your canine or feline friend with armfuls of cute and fun toys, it isn’t the most eco-friendly option. Like fast fashion for people, continuously buying new toys that your pet doesn’t necessarily need can contribute to more waste. Try buying just a few toys at a time and not purchasing more until the others genuinely need replacing.
  • Quality. Who doesn’t love a good deal? While it is a great idea to purchase pet products when they are on sale or join a store’s loyalty program to earn discounts, you should avoid buying cheaply made toys. Though it may be tempting to save some money by purchasing the cheaper option, sometimes the less expensive options won’t last nearly as long as a high-quality toy. This results in more waste and you having to purchase another toy anyways.
  • Material.The material that your pet’s toy is made of can also affect the overall quality. For instance, instead of purchasing your pet a stuffed fabric toy that may be torn apart within just a month, try investing in a rubber-made, more durable toy that will last much longer.
  • Seller. It’s also worthwhile to think about where you are purchasing your pet’s toys. Do you typically buy online, visit a large chain pet store, or shop locally? One of the best ways to support the environment is to buy locally from a small business. By eliminating the need to have a product packaged and shipped, you are already reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Homemade. How many times has your pet created fun toys out of an everyday item that’s laying around the house? It doesn’t take much some days to keep your pet entertained. Instead of going out and purchasing new toys, consider making your own from materials you may already have on hand.

When the time comes that you are ready to get rid of a toy, take a moment to consider how you will also be disposing of it. Has the toy really reached the end of its life, or have you just had it for a long time? Try keeping toys as long as possible to reduce how many new ones you have to purchase. If the toy is completely worn out, consider whether it can be recycled before it is just thrown in the garbage.

Lastly, if the toy is not in horrible shape, but you are interested in getting rid of it, consider options besides throwing it away. There may be another pet parent you know that could use it, or it may even make for a good donation item to your local animal shelter, humane society, or pet rescue.

orange cat eating out of a white bowl

Eco-Friendly Pet Food

With millions upon millions of dogs and cats in the world, it’s no wonder that their dietary choices can also significantly impact the environment. As of late, eco-friendly products have become quite the dog food trend, and sustainable and responsible brands have been trending in cat nutrition.

A great first step of being more eco-friendly with your pet’s food is to read the food labels.

For instance, food labeled “organic” can be better for the environment, but food with a “natural” label doesn’t have the same regulations as organic. You can also look for foods made up of whole ingredients instead of processed ones. For instance, you’ll want to look for “chicken” instead of “meat” on the list of ingredients. And just like people, our pets can also benefit from having fruits and vegetables in their food. These whole ingredients are considered better for the environment because, with less processing, there are fewer resources used.

Another option to have eco-friendly pet food is to make some in your kitchen. If you aren’t quite ready for that type of commitment yet, you can first try making homemade cat or dog treats instead. If you will be whipping up food for your four-legged friend, be sure to avoid these unsafe foods for cats and foods that you should never feed your dog.

Before changing your pet’s diet, it’s essential that you talk with their veterinarian first. Cats and dogs require various daily nutrients, and it’s vital that any new diet plan they are on will still provide them with everything they need.

Pet Waste and the Environment

When it comes to cleaning up after your pet, chances are you don’t give it a second thought. You scoop out your cat’s litter box, you pick up after your dog during a walk then you throw all the waste in the garbage, but did you know that pet waste can negatively affect the environment?

For dog parents, just picking up after your pup is a great first step since leaving pet waste could affect your local watershed. But are dog poop bags really biodegradable? Most biodegradable bags have specific disposal requirements, and if they aren’t followed correctly, the bag may end up stuck in a landfill anyway. Be sure to also check the company’s claims before purchasing any bags. As “environmentally-friendly” and “biodegradable” can mean two completely different things when it comes to marketing.

Another option to be more eco-friendly, which is only available to homeowners, is to wait longer in between cleaning up your yard. Instead of using a bag every time your pup goes out, try cleaning the yard just once or twice a week, thus reducing how many bags you use.

With cats, litter is an entirely different situation. Most litters are made primarily from clay which is strip-mined, a practice that is historically not good for the environment. A great way to be more eco-friendly is to begin looking into biodegradable cat litter options.

Until you find a new eco-friendly, budget-friendly brand that also works for your cat, you may be wondering, “Is there an eco-friendly way to get rid of cat litter?” Composting is an option to consider if you have a biodegradable litter and live somewhere with land.

Another option for cat parents is to throw the waste in a biodegradable bag when scooping out the litter boxes. Then, every few weeks to once a month, when it is time to empty all the litter, you can dump it into newspapers and throw those into the garbage. Who knew that helping the environment could include learning eco-friendly cat poop disposal options?

Other steps you can take to reduce your impact include not using litter box liners, not using a plastic scoop (metal is an alternative option), and keeping your litter box until you genuinely need to replace it.

Although each of these recommendations may seem like a small step, by each pet parent contributing and doing their part, eco-conscious decisions can quickly become second nature and a part of your lifestyle.

Eco- pet-friendly bug spray may pop up in your search for environmentally safe pet products. However, take heed. Most natural alternatives to flea and tick medication are not as effective as the pharmaceutical treatment options.

More Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Pet Parent

If you feel overwhelmed about all the eco-friendly lifestyle changes you can make with your pet but aren’t quite sure where to begin, these three easy steps are a great place to get started.

  1. Salt

    This doesn’t include the type of salt you keep in your kitchen but the type you use to keep your driveway ice-free. The most common type of salt used throughout the winter can cause burns to your pet’s paws if they step on them, plus these salts can runoff into waterways and cause problems to the plant and animal life. This winter, look into using pet-friendly de-icing options, which typically happen to be more eco-friendly as well.

  2. Adopt

    With thousands of cats and dogs across the United States needing a home, it is always recommended that you adopt and don’t shop for your pet. By adopting an animal from a local humane society, shelter, or rescue, instead of going to a pet store or breeder, you can help a pet in need without supporting the overbreeding of animals.

  3. Spaying and Neutering

    At first, it may seem unrelated—your pet being spayed and being eco-friendly. However, by keeping cat and dog populations in check, the feral animal issue can be significantly lowered, which is a great benefit for the well-being of these animals. Not to mention, feral cats can cause many environmental problems, such as leaving waste in unwanted areas and killing many other species.

It's exciting to learn about all the creative ways you and your pet can live an eco-friendly lifestyle. Be sure to research products and companies to ensure that they truly will be the best fit for your four-legged friend.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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