Monday, October 18, 2010

Green Living With Pets

"According to an August 6th 2007 issue of Business Week magazine, we spend 41 billion dollars on our pets annually." ... from WikiAnswers

I have an adorable cat! She's also, like many pets, finicky ... she likes one kind of canned food and one kind of dry food. When I shop for her, I find myself thinking that I should buy her other things ... give her a variety of tastes (purely a "human" thing to do). And she always turns her nose up at the new offerings. But just look at those shelves filled with every kind of flavor and texture ... cans of organic food, natural food, vitamin-enriched food ... food recommended by veterinarians, food your pet will thank you for and food rated #1 by cats everywhere (hm ... my cat was never asked to vote).

As I looked around the pet store, I realized that purchasing pet products is an emotional experience ... and big business knows that. It also tends to be an area of our lives where we don't think much about the environment or green living. We see pet toys and think how Fido will love them rather than about what they are made of. We buy flea collars, sprays and drops to protect our animals without reading and understanding the ingredient list. There are cute little outfits to keep our critters warm in the winter, comfy looking beds and collars of every color and style ... and in truth, how many of us consider the "greeness" of these products?

Living with pets can be done in an Eco-friendly way. Here are some tips:

  • When buying pet food, consider packaging. Look for recyclable containers and forgo single-serving packages for bulk or large bags/cans.

  • Consider buying organic pet food and treats.

  • Choose Eco-friendly bowls and dishes for your pet's food ... glass, ceramic, stainless steel, etc.

  • To control fleas, opt for Eco-friendly methods rather than buying pet store remedies. Most pet store remedies contain a whole list of toxins which are not only bad for the environment but bad for your pet as well. Click HERE for a good article on natural, earth-friendly flea control methods.

  • Most pets enjoy toys. Choose items which are made from recycled products or ones made out of natural, sustainable materials like hemp. And don't forget that many of the items you have around the house can work as toys ... our cat's favorite toy is a shoe lace swinging from a hook under the counter.

  • Clean up after your pet. Pet waste contains parasites which can spread to other animals and humans. It also contains bacteria and nitrogen. When it rains, these components are washed into storm drains and can find their way to streams, rivers, etc. Safely dispose of pet waste by either flushing it down the toilet (sewage treatment plants effectively remove all harmful components) or bagging it (use biodegradable bags).

  • If you have a cat, choose plant-based litter. Clay litter is strip-mined ... a process which is bad for the planet. And as tempting as those self-cleaning litter boxes seem, consider the amount of energy used to run them and opt, instead, for doing it yourself ... a little more effort but much better for the earth.

  • Does your pet travel? Choose parks, vets, etc. which are close to home to minimize driving distance. Or, better yet, walk (good for you and good for your pet).

  • Choose a recycled pet ... adopt from a shelter.

  • Have your pet spayed/neutered. How is this "green"? Consider what happens if a single cat has multiple liters of kittens. Typically they become too difficult for the owner to deal with ... and often unwanted animals are released and left to fend for themselves. Populations continue to grow creating problems. For example, bird populations decrease in areas with large feral cat populations. For animals not abandoned, there are shelters ... but with growing numbers of unwanted pets, animals are being destroyed.
Having a pet is one of the pleasures of life. With a little thought, we can pamper our four-legged family members in a safe, environmentally-friendly way.

As always, I would love to hear from you!


  1. Thanks! If I may, I'd like to add some information about pet food for the readers:

    * Many animals are allergic to grains, so those 'healthy' ads where there's corn and wheat on the bag? Utter crap. Think about it - dogs don't graze in fields of wheat or corn.
    * If it doesn't say 'no animal byproducts' on it, it has them in it, and that's anything from the cutting room floor. Don't feed this to your dog. Seriously - Iams, Purina, all that stuff is rubbish. If you love your pet you won't give them the worst of the worst food.
    Think about it, a 16 lb bag of food for $30 may seem spendy (I buy one a month for my Rottweiler) but to me, that's two bucks a DAY to keep her healthy, allergy free, and do the right thing.
    * I've recently become a HUGE fan of Evangers - it's actually HUMAN grade food rather than pet-grade food...AND it's organic AND cheap!! And after years of other foods, my Daisy is crazy about this stuff - after a lot of illness, she's wolfing this down :)
    * Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores - therefore, like people, they do NOT require meat in their diets. There are some great vegetarian dog foods out there!!
    * A great store I go to here in Portland that sells it also discusses the other foods that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
    * Don't waste your money on dog treats. They are fattening to dogs and the packaging is rarely recyclable. Instead give your dogs fresh vegetables (except onions which are toxic), in their bowl so they don't think they're getting table scraps. My dog LOVES green beans - fortunately she's not learned how to eat them off the vine!
    * Finally, buy the biggest bag you can. Pet food bags are not recyclable, so unless you have access to a store that sells it in bulk, you're going to have to put that in the trash unfortunately. Minimize your impact (like with human items) and ultimately save money by buying the largest quantity available.

  2. Thanks for your comments! Now that most of us are trying to live a greener, healthier life, it's time to take care of our pets and help them to avoid all the toxins out there. I got totally fed up with all the nasty chemicals in the dog shampoos and starting making my own products. I actually turned it into a business after finding such a need for organic pet care. Check out my Funky Dog products at

  3. I have generally learned about pets but not this much that too the pets really explain lots and lots of useful information regarding Green living with pets.the tips were really useful for me because. I love pets liks Cats and Dogs.

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  4. Hi - thanks for stopping buy - who can say no to cream cheese in a recipe? :)

    I'm not actually composting to the very end at my desk at work...just saving compostable items (banana peals, tea bags, paper towels, apple cores, etc.) to take home to dump in my bin. If I actually started composting here, there would probably be an uprising over the smell! I am thinking of putting bins in the breakrooms to collect coffee grinds. With 300+ people we go through a lot of coffee.

  5. I am a huge animal lover and I do foster care for animals, so I am always looking for ways to save money when it comes to my pets.
    One of my dogs loves to have stuffed animals, and then about a week later he will distroy them. So we go to yard sales and get him his toys. Not only are we saving money but we are saving something from going into the dump.
    Cat toys are very easy to make so I make all of my cat toys. I just get creative and use what I have on hand.

  6. Within the last few months we have discovered that our German Shepherd is allergic to foods with any type of grain in it. We have switched to a grain free food.

    While I was reading all the stats on this particular brain, I noticed that is is totally grain free no by products of any type and made with purified water.

    Until recently we had 2 dogs so I buy large bags of food (over 16 lbs.) While this food does cost more, there is a noticeable change in my pet for the better!

    I have also found wheat free treats for her which she loves.

    While we are spending more on food for Snow, in the end it is worth it to me to have her healthy and happy.

  7. Great post! I use a product called Critter Oil for flea control. It's a combintion of essential oils that work great. We've never had a flea problem while friends who use those store-bought ones suffer every year from them. It's fantastic!

    I also support buying human grade food. I've always thought that if I wasn't willing to eat it, why would I feed it to my pet? I also purposefully got two pets that eat the same diet (rats and dogs, believe it or not) so I only have to buy one bag of food and both are happy (I feed Blue Buffalo).

    Finally, also consider buying the largest bag possible when buying food. The 50 pound bag of Blue Buffalo costs $50 (so, $1 per pound) while the 15 pound bag costs $30 (so, $2 per pound). It may cost more upfront but will save you money on the back end!

    Great post, again! Btw I found you via the Green Follow Friday and I'm your newest follower. Thanks for linkying up!


  8. I have generally learned about pets but not this much that too the pets really explain lots and lots of useful information regarding Green living with pets.the tips were really useful for me because. I love pets liks Cats and Dogs.
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