How to Maintain Your Commitment to Eco-Friendly Living as a Pet Parent
Many people around the world are opting to live more sustainable lifestyles. But what does that mean for dog lovers? Is it possible to fulfill your eco-friendly dreams when you share your life with a four-legged friend? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways dog lovers can maintain sustainable living practices while still catering to their dog’s every whim (because that’s what dog lovers do, of course).
We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to sustainable living for dog lovers to help you do just that. Below, you’ll find tons of useful tips and resources on how to live a green-friendly life in total harmony with your four-legged friends. From sustainable materials and landscaping options for the perfect, eco-friendly outdoor play space for your pal to do-it-yourself home remedies for flea and tick prevention and common doggy ailments, this guide includes all the tips and information you need to make your four-legged companions an active participant in your sustainable lifestyle.
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General Resources on Sustainable Practices in the Pet Industry
The following resources provide information on services and other general knowledge surrounding sustainable practices in the pet industry and for pet parents.
Image via Flickrby Artur Staszewski
The Pet Industry Sustainability Toolkit offers a multitude of resources on sustainable practices within the pet industry. This resource provides case studies, webinars, reports, and other information on sustainability. While designed primarily for pet product companies, there’s plenty of useful information here for the sustainability-minded, dog-loving consumer, as well.
Look into services to find local play groups or share the care of a pet among two or more people (for those who can’t afford to shoulder the burden of feeding and caring for a pet on their own, or lack the time to dedicate to a pet full-time. PetstoShare.com is one such service offering a variety of options for dog lovers.
Adopting sustainable practices in the pet food industry could have a substantial impact. “In short, there are strategies to make pet food manufacturing more sustainable while meeting the animals’ nutritional needs and keeping the products affordable. Pet food is a $55 billion industry worldwide, so adopting sustainable practices could have a global impact,” explains this article from Science Daily.
There are many benefits to “sustainable pets.” While this article from Southern Fried Science takes a somewhat critical look at pet parenthood as a whole (and whether pet parenthood is sustainable in itself), it does offer a number of useful points on what makes a sustainable pet. “Cats and dogs can be sustainable in the right context. The challenge is to balance your needs as a pet parent with the environmental demands of the animal,” the article notes.
Sustainable Indoor Practices Safe for Your Dog
Sustainable living means choosing sustainable lifestyle practices in all areas of your life. The following resources offer tips and information on sustainable practices you can implement indoors for better quality of life for both you and your dog.
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Choose an eco-friendly dog bed. This article from TreeHugger.com lists several options for dog beds that are both comfy for your dog and friendly for the environment.
Find the right apartment for you and your dog. Apartments with locations near parks (dog parks in particular) that offer great walkability are dog-friendly options that allow you to spend more time on foot and less time in the car.
In addition to dog food, there are plenty of green options you can buy to keep your dog occupied while minimizing unnecessary environmental waste. MoneyCrashers.com offers a lengthy list of 48 different eco-friendly products you can score for your dog.
Use your old blankets as bedding for your dog. PopSugar highlights an innovative product that allows dog lovers to recycle old blankets while providing their furry friends with a comfy, cushy, and sustainable resting spot.
House plants are great for improving indoor air quality, but not all house plants are safe for dogs. This article from Mother Nature Network reveals which house plants will give your air quality a boost without harming your dog should he decide to partake in a little snack.
Sustainable Dog-Friendly Practices for Your Outdoor Spaces
The following tips and resources offer information on creating sustainable outdoor spaces that are dog-friendly and safe for your pets to enjoy.
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Make a sustainable dog house. Houzz.com offers a number of photos showcasing green, sustainable dog house designs for inspiration, using reclaimed wood, recycled pallets, and similar materials.
Outdoor plants can be harmful to your dog if ingested, so choose wisely. The Good Dog Food Company highlights 10 types of plants that aren’t safe for your dog; rhubarb, morning glory, and English ivy, to name a few.
Use landscaping techniques with sustainable materials to create fido-friendly outdoor spaces. This article from Sunset offers 13 different tips for creating dog- and eco-friendly outdoor living areas, including the use of decomposed granite, picking plants that can stand up to a little stomping, and more.
There are even eco-friendly flooring options for outdoor dog runs that can stand up to the wear and tear your four-legged friend will put it through. This Q&A from Apartment Therapy offers suggestions from readers for outdoor kennel flooring options that are green-friendly and withstand the test of time.
Turn to the Internet to source the most sustainable products for your dog. From biodegradable training pads (pee pads) to innovative, recyclable dog chew toys designed to give even the roughest, toughest chewer a run for her money, the web is a wealth of innovative, eco-friendly products that can help you reduce your dog’s environmental footprint. This article from This Old House identifies 20 sustainable products for your dog and other pets, too.
Consider proper disposal of pet waste. While composting of kitty waste is not an earth-conscious option, some say that this is possible for dog poop, if done properly. When in doubt, opt for truly biodegradable poop bags and eco-friendly cat litter.
Choose indigenous plants that thrive without the aid of artificial fertilizers and chemical pesticides. Saratoga Dog Lovers explains, “Mostly they need to be sourced from specialty nurseries though, because big box stores depend on our repeat business purchasing chemical fertilizers and pesticides; it’s not in the big box garden centers’ best financial interest for us to be aware of how easy and low maintenance gardening and landscaping can be. Low maintenance, self-sustaining landscape design using native plants translates into safe properties and habitat for dogs and other animals.”
Sustainable and Healthy Diet Options for Your Dog
The following resources provide information on choosing sustainable diet options for your dog without compromising nutritional requirements.
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Nutritional sustainability means choosing foods that meet your dog’s nutritional and energy requirements without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their nutritional needs. This article from Advances in Nutrition discusses nutritional sustainability of pet foods, including the various factors that influence nutritional sustainability.
Focus on your pet’s nutritional needs, not the nutritional requirements of a human. Dogs have different nutritional needs compared to humans, as this article points out, yet many pet foods tout the benefits of their nutritional value in terms that are more relevant to people. A diet that works for you may not be the healthiest choice for your dog.
Buy non-toxic dog food dishes. As GreenHome points out, “Certain plastic bowls can emit toxins like BPA and phthalates into your pet’s food and water supply. According to SCGH’s ‘The Rubber Ducky Chemical’ article, studies in humans and rats revealed that exposure to certain phthalates can increase the risk of cancer. Choose bowls made from ceramic, stainless steel, porcelain, or even sugarcane that are safer than plastic.”
Organic doesn’t necessarily mean sustainable, making the supply chain tricky to manage for companies committed to sustainable practices who also prioritize proper nutrition. Green Dog Pet Supply notes that this sometimes means the company has some tough choices to make. As a dog lover, fully investigate the ingredients and sourcing methods before choosing a pet food.
Don’t overfeed your dog. Surprisingly, there are many dog lovers who – unknowingly, of course – overfeed their beloved four-legged friends, and this is not a sustainable practice. Pet obesity is a growing issue, and overeating is not good for your dog’s health.
Consider offering your dog home-cooked meals using healthy, natural, and sustainable ingredients. Another growing trend among dog lovers who enjoy a sustainable lifestyle, home-cooking your dog’s food means you have more control over the ingredients and nutrients your dog consumes. This article describes the trend along with methods dog owners use to prepare foods in advance to meet their dogs’ dietary needs.
Be mindful of opting for vegan or vegetarian diets for your dog. Dogs have different nutritional requirements, and by nature, they are omnivores. As this article points out, dogs have an easier time than cats do adjusting to a vegetarian diet, but it’s a decision that must be made carefully.
Try your hand at making your own dog treats and chew toys. These DIY dog biscuits and chew toys from Honest.com will be sure to please your dog.
Sustainable Health and Wellness Options for Dog Lovers
The following tips and resources provide helpful information for pet parents who want to maintain their pet’s health and wellness through alternative, holistic, and sustainable healthcare practices.
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The demand for holistic pet care is increasing, and as such, there are several options for finding a holistic veterinarian to consult for your dog’s health and wellness needs. This resource lists several organizations and links to other resources to learn more about the various holistic pet care options to help enhance your pet’s wellness.
Try natural remedies to treat common ailments and conditions that might be affecting your dog. Problems such as anxiety can sometimes be alleviated with the use of natural remedies that don’t contain harsh chemicals or medications that can cause side effects.
Some ingredients in commercial dog shampoos can cause unpleasant side effects for your dogs, such as itching and flaky skin. The solution: DIY, all-natural dog shampoo free of environmentally damaging chemicals and other harmful ingredients. PetCareRx offers a handy guide for what to watch for when making your own homemade dog shampoo and a few tricks of the trade for safe, eco-friendly results both you and your dog will love.
Keep some coconut oil, canned pumpkin, and Diatomaceous Earth on hand. These items make for excellent natural remedies for a variety of ailments that could make your dog feel unwell, and they don’t involve any harsh chemicals, solvents, or other ingredients that are harmful to the environment. The Dogington Post describes the uses for these natural remedies to help your dog feel his best, and they might even help you avoid a pricey trip to the vet.
Coconut oil, in particular, offers a multitude of benefits for dogs. This guide from SitStay.com provides detailed information on the many uses for and benefits of coconut oil for dogs, including healthier skin, a soft, luxurious coat, and more.
Commercial flea and tick control products contain chemicals, and some sources say they can be dangerous for dogs. This article from PETA describes natural, eco-friendly alternatives to the chemical-based flea and tick treatments available from major retailers.
Make your own, natural and eco-friendly flea drink and flea spray to ensure your dog will be bite-free. This article offers recipes for both flea spray and flea drink, using natural ingredients, and other tips for keeping your dog free of nasty pests – without the use of harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment and not the safest option for your dog.
Your love of dogs doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a sustainable lifestyle. Using these tips and resources, your dog can play an active role in your commitment to eco-minded living.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.