Some of us just can’t imagine a life without man’s best friend by our side. But that can come at a cost to the environment.
I’ve always included furballs in my list of family members. My first kitten was gifted to me when I was barely crawling, my first dog adopted me by taking my little hand in his mouth and joining my mother and I on our walk to the post office when I was about two. Although my father believed that it was spoiling a pet just to allow it to sleep in the house at night, I’ve been known to indulge in freeze dried salmon and liver, an endless supply of rubber and cloth toys of varying shapes and sizes, cloth beds, and personalized food dishes.
We just took in our latest refugee, a little mixed breed puppy that someone tossed out of a pickup. She joins the 90 pound Dutch Shepherd we rescued in a local park three years ago and the black tom cat who took over our household as a street-wise kitten about a year before that. In the last four years we have gone through an inordinate amount of food and treats, toys and beds, clean up bags and shampoo while being rewarded with unconditional love and continual entertainment.
We certainly aren’t alone in spending for this kind of companionship. This year, pet owners will spend approximately $62 BILLION dollars on their furry friends. Unfortunately, a lot of this leads to excess waste that can ultimately hurt our planet.
We do our best to be responsible pet parents—not just in terms of the care we give our fur babies, but also in the care we show to the earth that plays host to all of us. We buy the larger bags of food to save on packaging, all empty cans and bags go to the recycling, we choose natural organic food, and we shampoo the pets (as well as clean the house we share with them) with organic products as well.
But we’re always looking for suggestions on how we can do better. So in honor of Earth Day, we picked up these tips from the experts at Camp Bow Wow.
Tips to Reduce Your Dog’s Carbon Paw Print
- Make Picking up after Your Pooch More Eco Friendly: It takes approximately 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose. However, there are many eco-friendly alternatives for picking up after your pooch. Try using biodegradable bags made of corn husk, which decompose quickly with help from bacteria and other living organisms.
- Premium Puppy Chow: When buying dog food and dog treats, always look for organic and/or natural products, which are easier on your dog’s stomach and better for the environment. Be sure you recycle the packaging that is used for dog food, such as cans and food bags. To go the extra step, make your own dog food.
- Break out the Fine China: For your doggie dishes, purchase stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead of plastic. These materials last longer and don’t have to be replaced as often, eliminating waste.
- Groom Green: Use grooming products that are made with natural ingredients instead of chemicals that are harmful to the environment. You should also support groomers that use natural products or ask that your groomer switch to more eco-friendly products. Consider donating some green products so the groomer can see how much better they are than the toxic ones. These organic products are safer for the planet AND Fido. At Camp Bow Wow, dogs are bathed with all natural shampoo and conditioners. In fact, most locations also use “The Bathmaster Animal Bathing System,” which cuts water and product usage in half.
- Help Reduce the Population of Homeless Pets: You’ve heard Bob Barker say it before but here it is again: Spay or neuter your dog. This is not only beneficial for your dog’s health but the planet’s health as well. Humanely reducing the pet population helps to reduce the stress that dogs place on the environment. Additionally, instead of purchasing a dog from a breeder, you should strongly consider adoption. Camp Bow Wow’s charity, The Bow Wow Buddies Foundation, works with Camp Bow Wow to help pets in need find their forever home.
- Make Fido Hippie Chic. Purchase products for your pup that are made from sustainable, organic and/or recycled materials. There are many dog toys and beds that are made with organic cotton available, and collars and leashes that are made from natural hemp.
Photo: Flickr/Beverly & Pack