Our pets are like our family. We feed them, walk them, spend time with them, and let them sleep in our beds. So why don't we go the extra mile and make our pets' lives just as green as our own? Not only will it help the earth, it will improve the health of your pets as well.
- Adopt: If you don't already own a pet, or if you want another, pick one up from the humane society or any other organization that allows you to adopt pets. More than 70,000 cats and dogs are born each day in the United States , many of whom will never have homes. In addition, breeders are much more likely to employ inhumane or cruel techniques on their animals than shelters and adoption centers.
- Spay or Neuter: Having your pets fixed will control the number of homeless and unwanted animals born every day. It will also eliminate the possibility of uterine, ovarian, and testicular cancer, while decreasing the chance of prostate disease.
- Indoor or Outdoor Pet: You should decide whether your pets will be indoor or outdoor animals. This is particularly important for cats; they kill more birds than anything else, except perhaps habitat destruction. House cats are well-fed, well-rested, and in much better shape than wild cats (and most birds don't stand a chance). Not to mention, the average life span for an outside cat is 3 years, while an inside cat's is 15-18 years.
- Food: Pet food is another important matter for you to consider carefully. Look for brands that use organic ingredients, or at least brands that carry the label FDA Food Grade Meat. Natural and organic brands make pet food with sustainably and humanely raised meats, and without added drugs or hormones. The alternative is a pet food the FDA considers unacceptable for humans, but good enough for cats and dogs: food made from animals classified as Dead, Dying, Diseased, or Down (Disabled), or 4-D for short.
- Doggy Bags: Purchase biodegradable doggy bags so you can compost your dog's waste instead of putting it in the garbage. Keep your pet's compost pile far away from your vegetable garden, of course.
- Kitty Litter: Be wary of clumping clay kitty litter; it's not only harmful to the planet, it's a potential health hazard to your cats. Sodium bentonite is the clumping agent in clay litter that gets stuck in your cats' hair and slowly poisons them as they chronically groom. This type of litter also contains a carcinogenic silica dust that coats your cats' lungs every time they use the litter box. Try FelinePine or another eco-friendly, pet-safe brand.
- Deicer: Rock salt and salt-based deicers are not only unsafe for pets, they are bad for small children as well. They can also contaminate wells and drinking supplies. Opt for a safer deicer such as Safe Paw Ice Melter.
- Toys: Choose your pets' toys as carefully as you would your children's. Many pet toys contain high levels of toxins like arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead. Give your pets toys made from recycled or sustainable fibers, such as hemp, as an alternative to plastic.
- Fleas and Ticks: Be sure to ask your veterinarian about year-round flea and tick prevention for your pets. This is especially important for pet owners who live in areas where Lyme disease is a risk, as it is carried by ticks.
- Pet Hair: You can even be eco-friendly in the way you remove pet hair. Fur-Zoff works on all fabrics and is made out of 90 percent recycled materials. In addition, one Fur-Zoff will last you a lifetime! It is a much better option than standard lint rollers that have to be replaced over and over again.
Pets are an important part of our culture and lives, and they should be treated as such. If you can put forth the effort to make yourself healthy by living green, you owe it to your pets to do the same for them.