Living an environmentally responsible life is not only good for the planet, but it’s good for us as well. From the food that we eat to the cars that we drive, there are many ways for us to be environmentally friendly. But have you ever thought about your pet’s carbon footprint? According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey, there are approximately 77.5 million owned dogs and 93.6 million owned cats in the United States. With this many companion animals, what we feed our pets and the products that we buy for them can have a big impact on our planet. Here are some ways to help your pet live a more eco-friendly life.
Natural Food and Treats
When it comes to pet food, “natural” means it is made without synthetic additives—no artificial flavors, colors, or chemical preservatives. Not only are these additives bad for your pet, they are also bad for the environment, as each synthetic ingredient is produced with its own carbon footprint. Keeping the ingredient list simple helps keep the environmental cost of producing the food down. Here are some suggestions:
• Wellness offers natural pet food, treats, and supplements for dogs and cats. They believe that the best formulas for food are those that strive to offer natural ingredients with no by-products, artificial additives or preservatives. Wellness requires that ingredients be derived from the most wholesome sources and prepared with a process that maintains the complete integrity of the nutritional benefits.
• Innova offers true natural and premium holistic pet food for adult dogs and cats, puppies, kittens, and special formulas for large breed or overweight pets. All Innova food products include elements from the five food groups—meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit and grain—plus essential fats and oils to deliver supreme nutrition for the overall health of your pets.
• California Natural makes a natural line of pet food for dogs and cats with sensitive digestive systems. They have the shortest ingredient list of any dry pet food. They combine just one protein, one fat, and one carbohydrate to create their food.
• Karma makes certified organic dog food and treats. Karma is produced without the use of conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, GMO grains, or irradiation and their packaging is made from recycled materials.
• Nature's Variety offers healthy kibble diets, canned diets, raw frozen diets, raw frozen bones, and all-natural treats. They provide quality nutrition to help your pet maintain proper body weight, reduce the risk of allergies, and enjoy a longer life by maintaining a healthy diet.
Most of these natural food and treats can be found in Santa Barbara at Lemos Pet Supply, La Cumbre Animal Feed, and even some grocery stores such as Whole Foods and Lazy Acres.
Environmentally Friendly Accessories
Green pet companies are not only making or selling healthier products for cats and dogs, but they are making the world a better place by choosing earth-friendly materials and ingredients for their products.
• Molly Mutt sells a doggy duvet that can be re-used. The plan behind this idea is that you purchase their duvet, then stuff it with your old towels or blankets and then wash the duvet if the bed starts to smell. Visit mollymutt.com/dog-duvets.html for more information.
• Cat Goods makes a cat bib that helps prevent your cat from killing birds. It is not supposed to interfere with your cat’s normal activities; it just acts as a barrier between your cat and the bird your cat is after. The Audubon Society estimates that millions of birds are killed each year by house cats. My advice would be to keep your cats indoors, especially since the American Humane Society says that cats who are allowed to roam outside live an average of three years, while indoor cats typically reach a lifespan of 15 years or more. But if you insist on letting your cat out, for just $11, you can at least help prevent your cat from killing birds. Visit: catgoods.comfor more information.
• Gorgeous and Green sells a very hip looking recycled polyester pet nap mat that gives new life to those old soda pop bottles. For more information, visit gorgeousandgreen.ca
• Only Natural Pet has a vast array of eco-friendly products, among them hemp collars and leashes—even breakaway collars for cats. Visit onlynaturalpet.com.
Non-toxic Grooming Products
Choosing non-toxic cleaners and grooming products reduces the risk of damage to our earth’s ecosystems, wildlife, and our pets and families, too. Most of these suggestions for non-toxic grooming products can be found in Santa Barbara at Lemos Pet Supply and La Cumbre Animal Feed.
• Buddy Wash has been specially formulated using coconut oil, aloe vera, vitamin E, and natural ingredients to provide a soothing and non-irritating bathing experience for your four-legged friend. This gentle shampoo uses herbs and natural oils to freshen and deodorize your pet's coat without using chemicals or additives.
• Hartz Clean Earth Gentle Cleansing Dog Shampoo can be used regularly to clean and condition a dog's coat with earth friendly, botanical extracts.
• Only Natural Herbal Defense Shampoo & Conditioner is made with 70 percent organic ingredients, neem oil, and other natural ingredients to help repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and more.
Environmentally Responsible Pet Waste Products
Products made from recycled materials ease our landfill burden, as do biodegradable products like natural cat litters and cat litter disposal bags. Most of these suggestions for natural pet waste products can be found at Lemos Pet Supply Store and Healthy Pet Store, both located in Santa Barbara.
• Feline Fresh Natural Pine Cat Litter is flushable, scoopable, naturally sterile, and biodegradable, and is made from 100 percent pure Southern Yellow Pine. I actually purchase pelleted shavings used for horses at La Cumbre Animal Feed—it’s exactly the same thing but much cheaper.
• World's Best Cat Litter is an all-natural cat litter made from whole-kernel corn that controls odors, clumps well, and is flushable. No unnatural additives.
• BioBag Litter Pan Liners are 100 percent biodegradable, non-allergenic cat pan liners that fit most sized cat pans and make good environmental sense. (I couldn’t find these anywhere in Santa Barbara, but you can order them online at biobagusa.com).
• Bags on Board sells a compact, refillable dispenser that attaches to any type of leash. Inside is a roll of biodegradable doggie clean-up bags.
Compost your pet’s waste. For instructions on how to composting your pet’s waste, visit cityfarmer.org/petwaste.html.
All this information may seem overwhelming. But even if you change one thing in your pet’s life—natural food for your dog, or natural litter for your cat—you can reduce your pet’s carbon footprint and help to make the world a little bit better not just for your pets, but for all of us.
Adoptable Pet of the Week
Yancy is a four-year-old, 42 lb., pit mix who came to the shelter as a little pup and has grown up sweet and happy. She can be a tad shy in new situations but she's been on many field trips with volunteers and knows she wants to be part of the outside world. Yancy wants to join a home with active folks who are calm and assertive who’ll give her plenty of exercise. She loves other dogs (although she's a bit dominant), passed her cat test, and would do well with kids ages 7 and up.
To meet Yancy and all her doggy pals, visit us at K-9 PALS, 5473 Overpass Road, call 681-4369, or visit k-9pals.org.