Tips for being a more environmentally friendly dog and cat owner
We love our pets, so naturally we want to do everything we can to make them happy in return for the joy they bring us. Pet ownership can take a toll on the environment, however, so there are some things you should keep in mind in to be sure that you are as kind to the environment as you are to your cat or dog.
Many people do not realize the magnitude of the effect that our pets can have on the environment.
“They can have a big impact, especially when you consider that there are about 175 million dogs and cats in the U.S.,” says Katherine Miller, an animal behaviorist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to lesson your impact. Here are a few to get you started:
If you use waste bags to pick up after your dog, make sure that they are biodegradable so they don’t clog up landfills. The difference that biodegradable baggies make is tremendous.
“They typically break down in about one month as opposed to an estimated 1,500 years for a plastic bag in a landfill,” states Kristine Lacoste from Pets Adviser.
If you have a cat, also make sure you are using biodegradable products.
“Cat litter is available in all-natural and biodegradable forms, and you can even consider making your own pet waste compost container,” states Lacoste.
Purchase eco-friendly supplies
When you first took home your pet, you may have been shocked at the variety of supplies you needed. One leash is never enough, and many dogs are picky about the types of beds and toys they will play with.
Fortunately, there are many manufacturers that make green pet products, such as by using organic and recycled materials, lessening your pet’s environmental footprint. Furthermore, if you buy toys and gear that are made in the US, you will prevent the need for unnecessary shipping.
West Paw (westpawdesign.com) and OliveGreenDog.com are two companies that prioritize the environment, but there are many others, so look for them next time you are at the pet store or shopping online.
Purchase locally made food
“The best pet foods are meat based, and meat production takes up precious agricultural land,” according to MarthaStewart.com. “Try to compensate for this by using minimally processed foods that contain meat from locally raised animals and organic vegetables.”
In order to reduce the amount of shipping that it took to produce your dog or cat food, read labels carefully. Look for packages that state the food is both made in the US and uses ingredients sourced here. If the label only says made in the US, then the ingredients may still have been sourced from another country.
Lastly, if you avoid beef-based food, you will also lessen your pet’s impact.
“Beef production reportedly uses more resources than other forms of protein, such as chicken or rabbit,” states Lacoste. “Switching to a pet food based on proteins other than beef helps lower the environmental impact of the food.”
Make your own treats
While it can be difficult to make your pet’s own food while still achieving the right nutritional balance, treats should only account for a very small portion of your pet’s diet, so they don’t have to feature the same balance of nutrients as food. This means that you can make your own pet treats and seriously decrease the amount of fuel required to bring your pet’s rewards to your door.
Depending on what your pet prefers, you can use your oven or a dehydrator to make chicken jerky, you can freeze low sodium broth in an ice cube tray for hot days, or you can even bake cookies using one of the pet-friendly recipes that are easily found online.
Here are some recipes from Martha Stewart online to get you started: http://www.marthastewart.com/904143/our-tastiest-homemade-dog-treats.
Save your scraps
Even if you don’t want to cook your own treat cookies, you can save any pet-safe food scraps to use a treats. Leftover lean meat and egg can both be great treats, for example. Make sure to avoid fatty and salty foods and to not feed too large of a portion of your pet’s calories as treats.
Many owners are surprised that their dogs love vegetables and fruits, so save your scraps and give it a try. Just be sure not to feed grapes, raisins, onions or any of the other foods that the ASPCA lists as harmful to pets at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets.
It is easy to be a green pet owner when you follow these tips, and you’ll surely be inspired to learn more ways to be earth friendly once you get started.
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