Pondering a Puppy’s Ecological Pawprint
Tips on green living for pets
When I got a puppy from the Humane Society, I discovered that adding a furry member to the household can unleash a series of new consumer choices. Before my new buddy even had a name, my email box was packed with coupons and “rewards plans” all aimed to get me to buy leashes, harnesses, crates, gates, beds, toys, food, treats, supplements, shampoo, rain/sun/snow/camping gear, and car safety equipment. I even needed to supplement my emergency preparedness kit.
I initially felt I had messed up by bringing a dog into the home without gearing up first. But then I decided that was much like letting the tail wag the dog. I was going to do this in a more resourceful way! Here are some lessons learned.
You can have both a healthy and more sustainable approach to feeding your pet.
It is all about the meat. Beef requires the most resources and produces the highest carbon emissions. Meats such as poultry or fish are better for your pet’s health and the planet. Along with deciding which meat to feed them with, you can consider options that include less meat. Cats are carnivores and need meat, but dogs are omnivores and can go for diets rich in grains and other plant ingredients and reduced meat.
By-products are sustainable and healthy for animals to consume. The best way to feed our pets meat-based diets with minimal footprints is to use every part of the animals we slaughter for human food, including organs. By-products do not include hooves, teeth, horns, hair or intestinal contents.
Portions are important. Read packaging and talk with your vet to ensure you are feeding your pet only the amount of food they need to maintain a healthy lean body weight.
Speaking of packaging, many healthy dog foods and treats are provided in bulk. Kitty litter is also sold in bulk. If the food of your choice is not available in bulk, those non-recyclable food bags make fantastic garbage liners.
Toys and Gear
Playing the planet-friendly way
Rotate toys. My puppy is forever looking for something new to put in his mouth. Instead of feeding the supply chain of new stuff, however, it has been just as effective to put some toys away for a while and then pull them back out when he starts looking for something new. Either he has a bad memory, or he is excited to be reacquainted with an old friend. Either way it works!
Purchase used. I don’t know about your pet, but mine prefers objects to be more than ‘gently-used’. Many resale businesses have a pet section. The Human Society sells some used items. Rethink objects around the house that can be repurposed so it can belong to the dog. Can a bowl that you never use work as a dog bowl? Are there stuffed toys you already have and don’t want anymore? My old climbing gear is working great for a leash.
Network to get what you need. Talk with people from dog park or friends for hand-me-downs.
Donate used towels, harnesses, crates, to the Humane Society or other puppy owners.
Save your stuff from destructive chewing. Giving your puppy lots of exercise, going through puppy training school and dog proofing the house are all techniques experts recommend. Consider repairing items that just got a little nibble.
It is polite to remove pet waste. It is also ecological
Always pick dog and cat waste up and dispose of it in a used bag and put it in the garbage. Parasites found in pet waste can linger in soil, putting children and pets at risk. Pet waste on the ground also contributes to runoff that pollutes waterways. Never put feces or litter in your compost bin. Avoid utilizing the sewer system, as that system was designed to break down bacteria specific to human beings.
The best environmental choice is to keep your cat indoors. This will keep waste manageable. Cats also kill local wildlife. The American Humane Society states this is also the best choice for your cat’s health, life satisfaction and safety. Audubon and Oregon Humane Society team up each year to offer a fun Catio Tour that showcases outdoor cat enclosures.