Whether you own a smart service dog, reliable guide dog, lovable companion animal or playful puppy, we know you can’t picture life without your cute, calming canine. From huge hounds to little yappy furballs, animals can really have a big impact on our lives. As it turns out, just like their human counterparts, animals also have an impact on the planet. Yup, we’re talking about carbon footprints… well, carbon pawprints!
For individuals with guide dogs, service dogs, companion animals and/or domestic pets, here are seven eco-friendly tips to embrace – with or without those sweet, slobbery licks.
Instead of driving your gas-guzzling vehicle, walk to dog parks and other dog-friendly establishments. The act of walking is good for the Earth and both you and your fur friend. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, dog ownership is associated with greater levels of physical activity, increased social support and the reduction of stress.
Chew on Green Eats
It’s wise to read nutritional labels on pet foods and understand misleading marketing terms. Food labeled “organic” can be better for the environment, but food deemed “natural” isn’t held to the same regulations, according to the ASPCA. Also, seek out whole ingredients, when possible, instead of processed goods. For example, foods that list “chicken” as an ingredient versus generic “meat.” As for fruits and veggies? Well, yes, produce can be nutrient-dense for animals too, and a far less processed (aka greener) food compared to meat. Do reference the American Kennel Club’s list of dog-safe fruits and vegetables.
Just like expanding options for people’s food, the pet industry has grown to include brands that employ sustainable farming techniques and Earth-conscious production and packaging. PetKeen.com recently ranked eco-friendly pet food manufacturers, which included:
- Castor & Pollux ORGANIX Organic Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- Tender & True Organic Grain-Free Chicken & Liver Recipe Dry Dog Food
- Freshpet Vital Fresh Cuts Chicken Recipe Fresh Dog Food
- Open Farm Freeze-Dried Raw Turkey Recipe Dog Food
- The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Dog Food
- Newman’s Own Organics Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
- Jiminy’s Cricket Crave Dry Dog Food
- Steve’s Real Food Freeze-Dried Raw Nugget Dog Food
Before changing the diet of your service dog, guide dog, companion animal or family pet, talk to your veterinarian first to ensure that all nutritional needs will be safely met. Lastly, to save money and the planet, try making homemade dog treats. Click HERE for a recipe!
Play Around with Toys
To eliminate excess packaging and shipping, shop at small businesses in your area rather than ordering online or shopping at big-box stores. Explore toys made of sustainable materials, like bamboo, cotton, hemp, wood and natural, durable rubber. Some eco-friendly dog toy companies include Beco, Eco & Woof, Harry Baker, Honest Pet Products, Spunky Pup and West Paw.
To go the homemade route, repurpose old clothing for simple, silly fun. Bring on the eco-conscious tug-of-war! And if Fido doesn’t like a toy you’ve purchased, don’t fill landfills with more garbage. Donate items to another pet owner or local shelter.
Trash the Plastic Bags
Picking up pet waste doesn’t have to create additional waste. Use biodegradable bags rather than single-use plastics that clog landfills. Again, note that the marketing terms “environmentally-friendly” and “biodegradable” are not exactly interchangeable.
Skip the Shopping Trip
If you’d like to become a pet parent, visit your local animal shelter or rescue rather than shop at pet stores. This can help curb overbreeding and control overpopulation. Plus, most shelters will accept donations of gently-used blankets, beds, bowls, collars, grooming tools, leashes, towels and toys.
Stop Being Salty!
For animal lovers in colder climates, know that the most common type of salt used on snow can actually burn or hurt your dog’s paws. Not to mention that these salts can run off into waterways, causing problems to other fauna and foliage. During winter months, choose pet-friendly de-icing options which happen to be more eco-friendly too. Amazon.com carries brands like ECO-ST, Natural Rapport and Safe Paw.
Bark Up the Bucks
There are so many worthy dog-centric charities working to positively impact the disability community and beyond. If you’re inclined to make a financial contribution to a nonprofit organization, explore giving to the American Service Dog Society, Guide Dogs of America, Guide Dog Foundation, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Paws with a Cause, Service Dogs for America, various dog schools nationwide and other charities advancing missions related to guide dogs, service dogs and companion animals. Animal lovers may also consider contributing to the Human Society or ASPCA.
Kudos to all eco-conscious animal owners!