Natural pet care can keep your pet healthy and safe
By Mike Valenti
Right now, your pet is wondering, “What can I do to reduce my carbon pawprint?” Here at EnviroCitizen.org we know that natural pet care is easy and affordable — just take a look at these simple tips below, and help your pets stay healthy while reducing their impact on the environment.
Choose a Recycled Pet
Each year, between 3 and 4 million dogs and cats are put to death in shelters throughout the United States. Despite this tragic fact, people still fork over thousands of dollars for a purebreed pet, ignoring the realities of inbreeding, factory-like conditions, overbreeding and other perils. The greenest and kindest way to get a dog or cat is to skip the overpriced breeders and get a pet from a pet shelter.
Spay or Neuter Your Pets
Here’s another rather unfortunate fact: Each hour in the United States, about 5,500 puppies and kittens are born. Yes, that’s right, every hour. Compare that number to the 415 humans born each hour, and you can see why it’s important to spay or neuter your pet. If you think the procedure is unnatural, perhaps you can find something natural about a puppy being killed by a car, or a kitten starving to death — I can’t.
Pets Are Not Wildlife
On the contrary, pets eat wildlife. An estimated 39 million birds are eaten each year by domestic cats — and that’s just in the state of Wisconsin! Multiply that by all 50 states, and you can see how big the problem is. Fido and Fluffy may seem cute to you, but to birds and wildlife, they’re just another hungry predator. Keep your cats indoors, and keep dogs on a leash when you’re out hiking through the woods.
Choose Organic Pet Foods
If you think the standards for labeling and ingredients in human processed foods are low — and they are — just imagine what’s allowed in the pet food industry. Some of the animals used in pet foods are diseased or already dead when they’re made into pet food. By purchasing organic or natural pet foods that contain healthier ingredients, you’re doing your pet and the planet a big favor, as well as sending a message to the pet food industry that they need to clean up their act.
Natural Pet Care and the Poop Patrol
All responsible pet owners want to clean up after their pets. Cat litter, however, comes with a host of environmental and health problems. The clay for kitty litter is usually strip-mined — an environmental nightmare — and contains silica dust that’s been implicated in serious health problems. Green cat litters are made of recycled newspaper, pine, corn or wood chips. And your dog’s poop bag is probably made of petroleum-based plastics. Instead, try biodegradable bags, available from most pet supply stores. But if you really want to go whole-hog, try a pet waste septic system.
Safer, Natural Pet Toys
Some pet toys are made of petroleum-based plastics, or contain harmful ingredients like lead or BPA (bisphenol A, a synthetic compound suspected of causing cancer, nerve damage and other health problems). But many manufacturers are now making chew toys and other items with organic or natural materials like hemp, cotton, plant-based dyes and safer forms of plastic.
What a Glossy Coat!
Just like many low-end human soaps and shampoos, pet products like shampoo and conditioners are often made with some cheap or possibly unhealthy ingredients. Instead, try safer alternatives to give your pet a clean, shiny coat.
Natural Pet Bedding and Other Accessories
Dogs, I’m told, spend about 12 hours a day sleeping. That’s about the best argument I’ve ever heard for bedding made of organic cotton and other natural materials. And some bedding manufacturers fill bedding with recycled content. And, of course, there are dozens of makers of all-natural, organic or recycled pet collars, leashes, scratch posts and other accessories.