By Patricia Danflous

Going green these days?  Congratulations and thank you for making the world a cleaner and healthier place to live. One quick question, however. Does your earth-conscious lifestyle include eco-smart decisions for your pet? Scooping the poop is not the only way to minimize carbon paw prints.

You can enhance the circle of life for man and animals by making thoughtful, creative green choices for your pet. The following suggestions can get you started on an environmentally friendly lifestyle for your dog, cat or other family pet.

  • Choose pet food labeled “natural” or “organic.” Look for the words “FDA-certified, food-grade meat” or the green USDA organic seal as your guide. Or, do some research and find recipes for homemade pet food.
  • Wash your pets with old-fashioned soap and water. Avoid products containing chemicals and pesticides. If you wouldn’t use it on your hair or skin, don’t try it on your pet.
  • Play green. You can find a wide variety of animal toys designated as earth friendly at your local pet store. Or what about that old pair of slippers or socks? The ball of twine in your kitchen junk drawer? What pet wouldn’t enjoy chasing after a ball made from a used organic cotton T-shirt (under your supervision, of course)?
  • Pick it up the right way. Yes, there are earth-friendly ways to scoop the poop. For dogs, forget about plastic bags and invest in biodegradable bags to pick up your dog’s waste. Some environmentalists recommend purchasing special waste containers similar to septic tanks. Eventually, animal feces is liquefied and absorbed into the ground. (Check out the Doggie Dooley, for example.)  If you are a cat person, start with natural-based cat litter and place the collected waste in a composting container.

Reducing the carbon paw print is the right thing to do. Before you head down that green path, be sure to check with your veterinarian and read labels thoroughly. “Natural” and “organic” may not always be the safest or most effective product for your dog or cat. 

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