It’s easy to overlook our pets when thinking about ways to be environmentally conscious. You know what a carbon footprint is and you actively recycle waste, but what about your pet’s carbon “paw” prints?
Here are some tips for keeping your pets green:
Keep Cats Indoors
Your lazy, cuddly housecat can quickly turn into a predator for wildlife while out on their morning stroll. Recent studies show that domestic cats kill billions of songbirds and small mammals every year. Research has proven that bell collars and trimming claws do not prevent cats from killing birds or other small animals. To keep cats safe and birds in the sky, keep your kitty inside!
Cat feces can also carry a parasite called toxoplasmosis which has recently been found to be killing marine life, including highly endangered sea otters, dolphins, whales, manatees, walruses, sea lions, and seals. This parasite is also zoonotic (can be passed from animals to humans) and so is a human health hazard for gardens, children’s sandboxes, and the beach. Keeping your cat indoors and always bagging & trashing their poop can help prevent spreading this infection!
Think Before You Throw Away
Many used pet care items or pet food can be donated to local animal shelters instead of thrown away. Even household items such as blankets, towels, and cleaning products are almost always welcome.
Earth-Friendly Pet Care Products
Purchasing eco-friendly pet products is a simple and impactful way to go green. Consider buying toys, beds, leashes, collars, bowls and blankets made out of recycled, organic or natural materials. Even organic dog shampoo can make a difference. For cats that can make toys out of anything, use things you already have around the house like from old craft supplies, boxes, paper towel rolls, and shoe laces.
Clean a Little Cleaner
Try using organic or homemade cleansers instead of name-brand cleansers with chemicals. There are many eco-friendly options for odor eliminators, cleansers, and outdoor pesticides. You can also cut down on paper towel usage by opting for a reusable dish rag instead.
Taking Care of Business
When disposing of dog waste or kitty litter and waste, use biodegradable bags, not plastic. Plastic bags remain in landfills long after the waste contained in them would have decomposed. Consider using one of the many biodegradable litter choices, too. These litters are wheat, corn, or paper-based and will degrade much quicker than standard clay-based litters. Conventional clay and silica-based kitty litters come from strip-mining, a very non-eco-friendly practice.
And always pick up your dog’s poop! Dog waste can take up to a year to naturally break down, and meanwhile the bacteria lingers in the soil and washes into bodies of water. Wastewater treatment systems cannot filter dog waste. Dog poop is a grass destroyer, water contaminator, bacteria & parasite vector, and aquatic life killer.
Sustainable Pet Foods
Choose a pet food company with a commitment to the planet. This doesn’t necessarily mean just buying organic pet food. It can also mean trying pet food brands that value recycling or take an eco-friendly approach to manufacturing.
Some companies have free recycling programs for pet food bag waste and some use recyclable/BPA-free packaging. Others source their ingredients from as close to the company’s headquarters as possible to reduce transportation pollution.
Make Your Own Treats
Why spend money and produce more packaging waste with store-bought treats when you could make your own! There are plenty of easy dog and cat treat recipes out there to whip up in your kitchen. They will be fresher, cheaper, and you’ll know exactly what you’re feeding your pet.
Spay or Neuter Your Pet
Unsterilized pets are more likely to roam and contribute to overpopulation. Not to mention wandering cats or dogs may damage property, injure or kill livestock, or transmit diseases to wildlife & humans. In her lifetime, one unspayed female cat & her offspring can produce up to 400,000 kittens!
Spaying or neutering your own pet is an easy way to help prevent overpopulation & environmental risks. Not to mention, you won’t have to worry about any surprise litters!
Adopt, Don’t Shop
When considering getting a new pet, think about going to a rescue organization (every AKC breed has one), the humane society or a shelter & get a pet that is already on the planet & needs a loving home. It may take a little longer & it may even require more time spent in the car driving around to find the perfect dog or cat, but it can be worth it. It’s all part of learning to “recycle” whether it’s paper, plastic or giving a pet another chance at a better life.