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Giving Fido the Green Light

Eco-friendly alternatives for you and your pet

By Barbara Cooke

Boy with puppyGetting a new dog or cat

Red light: Buying a puppy or kitten at a pet store contributes to puppy mills and cat overpopulation.

Green light: The number-one way to recycle, save a life, and feel so happy you’ll hug yourself is to adopt a pet from a shelter rather than buy from a pet store or breeder. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that more than 6 million dogs and cats wait for homes in shelters across the country and that about 4 million will end up being euthanized each year. Even if you’re looking for a special kind of pooch, adoption is the way to go: Approximately 25 percent of shelter dogs are purebreds, and breed rescue groups are in abundance. Another great way to be eco-friendly is to rescue a stray or take in a homeless pet from a friend or family member who needs help.

Getting rid of old linens and rugs

Red light: Throw them out in the garbage.

Green light: Use those old pilled blankets, threadbare towels, and bathroom rugs to line your pets’ bedding, dry dirty paws, or protect the back seat of your car. Shelters will love your extra linens for pet bedding on concrete floors, and animal hospitals can use them post-surgery and for crate floors. Consider asking resale shops for slightly stained or torn sheets, comforters, blankets, rugs, or towels that are donated but can’t be sold. Just wash and give them, along with your old newspapers, to your local shelter.

Buying new pet toys, clothes, and bedding

Red light: Buy products that are made from petroleum-based fibers.

Green light: Purchase soft, durable things your pets will love that are made from recycled plastic bottles and paper. Clever PoochPlanet and SmartyKat products are available at most pet stores and at WorldWise.com. You can also find recycled pet products at TheDailyGreen.com.

Eating it up

Red light: Feed your pet food made with animal byproducts, cheap fillers, and unhealthy preservatives.

Green light: Since the pet-food recalls in 2007, almost every manufacturer of pet food makes a line that’s free of dangerous preservatives and animal by-products. Although most are pretty pricey, Costco’s Kirkland Signature dog and cat wet and dry foods, top-rated in many surveys, is an economical delight. Trader Joe’s also makes yummy-smelling treats for dogs and healthy Bench and Field Holistic Natural Feline Formula.

Pee and poo patrol for cats

Red light: Clumping kitty litter is mined from clay, which is nonbiodegradable and can cause gastric distress in some animals after they lick their paws or ingest it.

Green light: Earth-friendly choices include Cat Country Organic Wheatgrass Litter, Swheat Scoop Natural Wheat Litter, or World’s Best Cat Litter. You can also try shredding your newspapers and using them for litter. Instead of plastic litterbox liners, recycle old newspaper under the litter.

Pee and poo patrol for dogs

Red light: The moldiest solution is to watch your dog poop and just leave the pile for someone to slip and slide in. Although it’s tempting to reuse those polyethylene plastic bags from newspapers or the grocery store, they’re made from oil and don’t decompose in landfills.

Green light: A greener solution is to buy biodegradable bags sold at pet stores or online. More industrious folks can try to compost the poop or dispose of it in nearby wooded areas far away from anything edible you might grow. In-ground Doggie Dooley Waste Digester System also works for some people. What’s slightly gross but remarkably easy? Planet Green suggests flushing it down the toilet just like the human stuff.

Cleaning it up

Red light: Use caustic bleach or other industrial cleaners.

Green light: A mixture of vinegar and water works great to clean up pee and poop stains, so you never need to use caustic bleach or industrial cleaners. Nature’s Miracle and Get Serious also do the trick without harming the environment.

Ticking off those ticks and fleas

Red light: The worst thing to do is to not do anything, allowing your dog or cat to be infested with biting, bloodsucking insects. Although preventatives like Frontline Plus or Advantage work great, these are insecticides, which may irritate some pets.

Green light: If your pet stays indoors most of the summer and does not go for walks in tall grass or woods, flea combs used every day may work for dogs and cats. Do not use products like tree tea oil without consulting your vet.

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