Green Strategies for Pet Care


Throughout human history, we have shared our lives with animals we call “pets.” For practical reasons such as herding or for recreational joy and companionship, pets have been integral in our lives and are now often considered family members. To care for their well-being, we can support products and lifestyles that protect and respect them and our natural world:

  • Healthy Food:
    • The ingredients in some brands may be produced via unsustainable methods of raising meat or have been manufactured with pesticides, antibiotics, artificial ingredients, or hormones. Such foods result in duller coat, insufficient digestive processes, weaker bones and teeth, decrease in energy, and the risks go on.
    • Horrifically, some brands actually have been known to use the meat of cats and dogs euthanized at shelters in their pet food.
    • By utilizing local or organic ingredients (fruits, grains, vegetables) that are safe, clean, and grown naturally, it may cost a bit more, but it means better health and less money spent at the veterinarian’s office. Buying products that use questionable methods of production will not encourage companies to improve their practices.
    • Look for labels that state the percentages of organic meat in the food, or if the product is USDA or FDA approved.
    • Cats can be vegan as long as they are supplemented with the amino acid taurine.
  • Poop Management:
    • Pet food brands that do not opt for ingredients run the risk of causing higher amounts of chemical toxins in their your pet’s waste. This causes the stool to take longer to decompose naturally.
    • Cat litters with clay in the sand do not break down easily and may build up in landfills.
    • Using regular plastic bags for clean-up exacerbates the issue. Consider purchasing biodegradable bags derived from plant components.
    • For cats, search for litters that use grains, vegetables, or newspapers, and silica for longer lasting utility.
  • Healthy Soaps & Flea Treatment:
    • Dogs’ skin and coats are sensitive to chemicals used in soaps or shampoos, and may lead to skin irritations and/or digestive issues if accidentally ingested.
      • Some shampoo chemicals may also contaminate local water bodies.
    • Always read the ingredient list labels on the soap bottle to determine the safety of the product’s components.
      • Avoid: artificial preservatives (Paraben, Isothiazolinone, formaldehyde), alcohols, sulfates, and polyethylene glycol.
      • Look for: natural ingredients and essential oils (lavender, rosemary, lemongrass, peppermint, chamomile), aloe, vitamin E, and/or apple cider vinegar.
    • For fleas, vacuum regularly to pick up eggs and choose boric acid or diatomaceous earth powders, or essential oil/herbal based treatments. Avoid insecticides, which may be nerve toxins.
    • Consider purchasing dog paw wipes that do not irritate sensitive paw skin, and are 100% biodegradable (look out for similar ingredients above).
  • Natural Pet Toys & Accessories:
    • Leashes, collars, and harnesses utilize nylons or leather, materials that can restrict a pet’s range of movement and comfort. Nylon is also not biodegradable.
      • Many companies now offer vegan materials such as organic cotton and hemp (applies to beds as well).
    • Toys made from plastics may be hazardous to your pet’s health due to the ingestion of small particles when chewed on. This could lead to health complications such as intestinal blockage or chemical poisoning.
      • Consider toys made from hemp or organic cotton materials.
    • If you choose plastic toys or accessories, look for recycled plastics to help protect the environment.

Having a pet is a serious responsibility and there are many complexities on how best to care for animals. But for all the effort, they equally provide us with a love and care, and help keep us physically and mentally active. A nurturing attitude towards a pet can be one personal step in making our natural world a better place for all creatures. It takes a single step; start with investment into the greater welfare of our four-legged, upcycled-frisbee-catching family member.

Helpful Links:

To hear our radio show on organic pet care, listen to our interview with Delta Farrington of Eco Dogs & Cats.

Rose Schipano