Greening Up Your Pet Care
August 5, 2010
Guest Blog by Kelly Wilson, an editor for Teaching Resource Center.
Pets are important members of the family, but like us they produce a carbon (paw) print. We can reduce the negative environmental effects of pet ownership by following a few simple guidelines.
The Truth About Pet Food
Organic food is not just for humans. When my cat was about five years old, she developed a skin allergy. A friend of mine recommended a pet health food store, and I decided to give it a try. After talking with the owner, I changed her food to an organic, all-natural brand and joked that our cat ate better than we did. Within a week, her skin allergy had cleared up.
If you read the labels of conventional pet food brands you find at the grocery store, you may find words similar to “protein source” and “by-products” which are vague on purpose. Finding out the origin of these sources of protein are kind of like trying to identify what’s in a hot dog.
Organic pet food, however, is similar to organic food for humans. High-quality pet food contains sustainably raised beef and poultry, grass-fed without hormones or antibiotics as well as organic vegetables untreated by pesticides. There is an absence of genetically-engineered or artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Food of this quality tends to cost a little more, but offers high-value for your pet’s health and the earth.
Bedding, Toys and Accessories
Pet bedding, toys and accessories are now available in a variety of all-natural materials. Dog and cat toys can be made of hemp or recycled materials, with organic catnip for the feline. You can get dog leashes and animal collars in hemp, as well as pet bedding made with all-natural fibers like organic cotton, hemp or recycled plastic bottles. Look at specialty pet stores for products that are organic, recycled and biodegradable. These high-quality items may cost more out of pocket, but they’re a better value and help the earth.
If you feed your animals, then you know that they make waste. When pets receive high-quality food and care, the waste they produce is actually more compact and easier to deal with. The important part is that we must deal with it.
Dog waste left on the ground gets rained on, washing it into our storm drains and polluting ground water. Plus, it stinks, so we need to pick it up. It’s easy to use a conventional plastic bag, but this will sit in the landfill for several years, not breaking down. To make this process a little more earth-friendly, use biodegradable waste bags that allow everything to decompose in a timely manner.
Cat waste is a little more complicated in that litter is involved. Bad for your cat and for the earth, clay-based litter creates dust that fills your cat’s lungs and messes with their digestive system because of cats’ grooming habits. There are several cat litter options out there made of biodegradable and friendly ingredients like recycled newspaper, wheat, corn and tea leaves. These plant-based alternatives are good for your cat and for the earth.
There are five non-toxic cleaning supplies that are safe around pets and children – these include vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, salt and water. Vinegar is a natural germ-killer and can be used for a variety of messes. Salt is a natural scrubber. Baking Soda and lemon juice both serve to neutralize odors. A few suggestions for using these natural cleaning supplies include the following:
* Clean out the cat litter bin with vinegar and add baking soda to plant-based litter to manage odor.
* Give your pet a dry bath with baking soda, brushing it into their fur.
* Clean up pet accidents with vinegar, using salt to scrub out stains and baking soda to banish odors.
Pets are valuable assets to our lives, and we can help them “go green” from head to paws!
Kelly Wilson is an editor for Teaching Resource Center, a Teacher Store providing high-quality Teaching Materials for over 25 years.