January 28, 2013

Green Pet Care

Pets can make wonderful companions and pet ownership is associated with multiple health benefits, including lower blood pressure. It only seems fair to care for your pet in the healthiest, most natural way. Plus, if you're an environmentally-conscientious person, reducing your pets' carbon paw print is just a natural part of being “everyday green.”

Here is Everyday Green's Guide to Green Pet Care:

Opt to adopt. Each year between 3 and 4 million dogs and cats in the U.S. are put to death due to overcrowding in shelters. Yet, many people still insist on buying animals from breeders. Not only are they overpriced, but many keep their animals in poor living conditions and engage in unscrupulous practices such as inbreeding, over-breeding, and culling of unwanted animals. The greenest (and not to mention kindest) way to get a pet is to adopt one.

Spay or neuter your pet. Help put a curb on the 70,000 cats and dogs born every day in the U.S. and have your pet spayed or neutered. Spaying and neutering not only help reduce the numbers of abandoned animals, but help prevent certain types of cancers and disease in pets as well.

Give your pet a cleaner, greener diet. Avoid pet foods with the chemical preservatives BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. Look for organic or free-range ingredients rather than the assortment of animal by-products found in many pet foods. Vary your cat's food to reduce its exposure to mercury in seafood. A great way to give your pet a safe, healthy diet is to make your own pet food. If you're up for it, there are plenty of recipes available online.

Green up your waste management. Clean up after your dog with biodegradable dog waste bags, available from most pet supply stores. If you own a cat, make sure to avoid clumping clay kitty litter. The clay is usually strip-mined, which causes extreme environmental damage during extraction, and contains carcinogenic silica dust which is associated with a variety of health problems. Instead, opt for green kitty litters made from plant sources like recycled newspaper, wheat, pine, corn or wood chips.

Opt for green toys and accessories. Nowadays most pet supply stores carry at least one line of green pet toys and accessories, which are better not only for the environment but your pet's health as well. Look for pet toys, scratch posts, bedding, collars, leashes, and other accessories made with recycled materials, sustainable fibers like as hemp and organic cotton, plant-based dyes, and BPA-free plastics. Replace pet bedding or any other products with old (pre-2005), misshapen, or broken down foam as it's likely to contain harmful PBDEs.

Check labels for safer grooming products. Pet shampoos and grooming products can contain harmful and even toxic chemicals. Read product labels and avoid anything that contains parabens, ingredients ending in “eth”, PEG, urea, or fragrance. Also, take a pass on anything without an ingredient list.

Ditch the flea collar. Flea collars are generally ineffective and expose your pet, you and your whole family to toxic chemicals. Instead, bathe your pet often, check regularly for ticks, vacuum frequently, and ask your vet about safer flea treatments and repellents.

Keep your home clean and safe for your pet. Vacuum with a HEPA-filter vacuum and remove your shoes at the door to reduce dust, allergens, and pollutants that can be harmful to you and your pets. Avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers on your lawn so it is safe for your pet (and the rest of your family) to walk, play, and lay on.

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