Many of us have wonderful pets, and most of us are making an effort to be more planet-friendly. Which is great. The problem is that we often forget that you can be very eco-friendly and still raise great family pets. The choices we make when it comes to their food, toys and sleeping arrangements make a more significant difference than you might think.
Of course, you need to balance the care that your pet needs while giving them what they need and putting their happiness first. Pets are a part of the family, so it makes perfect sense for them to take part in our efforts.
How Can You Be An Eco-Friendly Pet Owner?
There are so many kennels and catteries filled with cats and dogs – who have been abandoned. In fact, you can even find puppies and kittens there too – from unwanted pregnancies. It is a shame that most likely many of them will never find a loving home.
Although you need to be prepared to provide some more emotional support in some cases (and more consistency to build trust), your efforts will be rewarded. In the US, there are approximately 70 million stray animals, and in Australia, there are somewhere in the region of 400,000 animals in need of homes.
When you head to an adoption centre, you are going to be saving a life, without you – they are often euthanised.
“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” ― Karen Davison
You can be sustainable with your chosen brand of pet food too. If you don’t love the idea of buying food – coming in tins, plastic packaging and costing a lot of resources to make – you might like to make your own.
The great thing about making your own pet food is that you know what has gone into it from start to finish.
Not all diets are created equally, though, so you still need to consider that your pet will need specific vitamins and minerals. Before you head into the world of homemade dog food, you should consult your vet. Making significant changes to your pet’s diet can have a big impact on their stomach and digestive system in general. So, have a chat with your veterinarian about natural alternatives to plastic packages food brands.
There is no harm in buying premade food, just be sure that you are committed to recycling as much as you can, and shopping around for the best you can afford.
Training And Toys
If you do get a puppy, they are likely going to need some toilet training. This can be a bit messy until they are allowed outside on the leash. You can, however, order pads for puppies online that are washable. Which means you don’t need to use the plastic-backed ones and add to the landfills.
Plastic toys get lost in the garden a lot, and as they aren’t going to decompose anytime soon – that isn’t great for the environment. Many dogs are very chew happy and will destroy plastic toys pretty quickly. You can get toys that are made from recyclable materials and natural fibres. They last much longer. There are many companies that are dedicated to creating high-quality eco-friendly pet toys. Hemp is a great alternative product to look into.
Many people like to use treats during training, you can find planet friendly pet treats in many online stores. Or you can choose to make your own. Much like the food, you’ll need to have a chat with a professional before you start drying out meats and so on.
You can create your own toys too. For cats a simple laser pointer, or a ball of tinfoil. Dogs can be a bit more complicated because they like to chew and pull to release tension and play. A knotted of t-shirt or jumper can be an excellent toy for dogs.
Smaller pets like rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs are great to give things like the toilet roll tubes, and balls of cardboard.
If you have decided to give your pets toy box an overhaul, don’t throw them out – get in touch with local shelters and see if they would be in need of some toys. Lightly used ones would be preferable though.
Extend the life of cat scratching posts by vacuuming it often and repairing any fraying bits. If you don’t want to buy a scratch post, then you can make your own! Corrugated cardboard with carpet cut-offs or wrapped in twine make great alternatives to store purchased ones.
“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.” ― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
When it comes to animal shampoos, some are so full of scented ingredients, parabens and dyes we are enamoured with the smell – rather than the ingredient list. If you check the packaging for your current pet shampoo, the chances are there is a lot more in it than you thought.
Each of those chemicals goes on to your pet, and then down the drain and out into the environment – as well as you when you are washing them. It’s a triple whammy.
Some brands advertise as being totally natural, but really they aren’t, the extract they use, however, allow them to be labelled as such. Very similar to human shampoos and body washes.
You might like to look into how to make dog shampoo without all the nasty chemicals. You can make small batches only when you need them. It is better for you, your dog and the environment.
Spay and Neuter
Many people simply skip this step. The problem is, there are millions of accidental dog, cat and other pregnancies every year. Getting your pet spayed or neutered means that you won’t be accidentally producing a batch of beautiful puppies that will need to go off to home. And, potentially ending up in dogs homes before you know it.
Pet homelessness is at epidemic proportions in all countries, so you could help simply by taking your pet to the vets.
Pet waste, mostly dogs, if left can have terrible effects. Pet waste can contaminate water sources, other wildlife and spread diseases. Not to mention that if it isn’t picked up on a walk, can cause people to go blind.
You can deal with cat and dog poop in a few ways:
- Use biodegradable bags, and deposit the bag into a pet waste digester
- Pick up the waste, and flush it into your own toilet when you get home – you can’t do this with cat waste. Cats have a range of parasites that they sewage treatment systems aren’t capable of dealing with.
- For cats, you will need to change the litter, newspapers, nutshells, wood shavings and wheat are great options.
- For dogs, you can also bury the poop. You’ll need a 15cm deep hole, and will need to cover it adequately.
There is a range of natural flea and tick treatments for dogs and cats. Currently, most people use things that are laden with chemicals, and while they do the job – they aren’t great for the pet or the environment.
Natural flea collars:
- Cats – A nylon or cotton collar. Unflavoured vodka, and some geranium essential oil. Or you could also use the vodka and 1 drop of cedarwood.
- Dogs – Nylon or cotton collar, 1 drop of rosemary essential oil, 1 drop of thyme and some oil from a garlic capsule.
Apple cider vinegar can be added to your pet’s water, or to a spritz and used on the pet. Check with your vet before you start adding things to the water though – but be clear that it is about natural flea prevention, and see what the alternatives are, your vet might have some good ideas.
Lemon spray. This is super easy to make, and all it takes is a fresh lemon and some water. Let a lemon steep in water overnight, and spray your pet once it is cold. Careful of the eyes and nose, and never use citrus essential oils.
You don’t have to do everything at once. Becoming eco-friendly over time means that you are more likely to stick to new routines. It gives you the time to make flea treatments, look into how to make dog shampoo, and source ethical organisations to buy your pets products from. It also means you are less likely to make a snap decision and throw everything out – when it could either go to a friend or to a shelter.
Also seek the advice of a vet, preferably one that is familiar with your and your pet. So that you can discuss your mission to be more eco-friendly and you’d like your pet to be part of the process.
“To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.” ~ Milan Kundera