How Pet Owners Can Keep Both Pets and the Environment Healthy
They may be small, but the creatures in our lives impact the world in big ways. Cats bring smiles to human faces, while also consuming energy and creating waste. Dogs are cute and furry, but they’ve been said to be worse than SUVs in terms of environmental impact, by authors Robert and Brenda Vale of “Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living.”
Of course, this isn’t our pets’ faults. They can’t control how much they harm the earth, but as their environmentally conscious human owner, you can act environmentally responsible for your four-legged friends. Pet owners should think about not only their footprints, but the paw prints of domesticated animals. Here are some things to be aware of.
Two important areas for pet owners to examine are diet and waste management. Natural and/or organic pet foods are high-quality choices among feeding options. Humans thrive better on organically grown produce and meat. Some experts suggest the same diet is better for pets, too. Commercial food products often contain hormones, antibiotics and artificial colorants or flavorings.
It is important to read ingredient labels when choosing food. One common ingredient in pet foods, carrageenan, is a binder that “holds” processed pet foods together. Although scientific research indicates carrageenan causes inflammation in pets and people, the industry continues to use this additive.
If you’re concerned about the impact creating, bagging up, and transporting the heavy food has on the environment, consider making your own dog food at home using veggies. Veterinarians can assist with creating healthy meal plans for your dog.
Antibiotics and other chemicals ingested by pets make their way into the water supply when owners don’t dispose of waste properly. Using biodegradable gloves and baggies is the responsible thing to do. For feline waste management, switching to mineral-based litter is preferable to clay-based litter, since clay litter can spread bacteria and cause respiratory problems in cats and humans. Clay litter is also cultivated through strip mining and does not break down naturally.
Beyond water contamination, there is another important consideration for people who encourage cats to do their daily business outdoors. A 2013 Nature Communications Journal report found, on an annual basis, domestic cats kill one to three billion birds and 7-20 billion small mammals.
Use environmentally safe cleaning products to sanitize floors, carpets and furniture and to neutralize airborne pet odors. This helps humans and pets breathe better, SaveonEnergy.com reports. Every person who switches to non-toxic and non-aerosol cleaners contributes to the health of the larger community.
Other suggestions for reducing paw prints on the environment include using collars, leashes and pet supplies manufactured with natural material, rather than synthetics. Donate old bedding and supplies to a local animal shelter to reduce landfill volume and provide cost savings for shelters.
Considering how each family member, including animals, affects the environment can lead the way to saving money and protecting the environment, electric.com says. A healthy home leads to a healthy environment, and vice-versa.