By Claire Moshenberg
Toxic chemicals don't just show up in foods, toys, and cosmetics for people; they also like to make an appearance in goods for pets. October is National Pet Wellness month, and we're celebrating by helping you keep your pet healthy and green with these top 5 green tips for pets:
Do your homework: In the market for a new doggie bed or chew toy? Find the least toxic versions of a wide variety of pet goods by looking them up on HealthyStuff.org. Their database covers tennis balls, pet beds and chew and tug toys.
If you're grocery shopping for your pets, look up pet food for dogs and cats on the Good Guide before you buy.
Pet-care and cleaning products: When it comes to cosmetics, like soap or shampoo, look for simple, organic products, or make your own. One low cost, non-toxic alternative to dog shampoo is baking soda. A small amount can be rubbed into your dog's coat, then brushed into their fur. Whether you're buying organic products or making homemade versions, always check with your vet before trying new products on your pet.
As you make your cosmetics more pet friendly, take a second look at your cleaning supplies. Because of their proximity to the ground, and penchant for licking themselves clean, animals are disproportionately exposed to the chemicals in cleaning supplies. Skip the toxic chemicals and replace your cleaning supplies with easy, affordable, non-toxic versions that you can make at home. Women's Voices for the Earth has an excellent guide to DIY non-toxic cleaning supplies.
Pet food: Conventional pet foods can be home to pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, and more. Skip commercial chow and use this guide from the Good Guide to help you make healthier pet food purchases. Or make your own wholesome fare for a fraction of the cost. Dogaware has a great list of resources for purchasing or making pet food, and the Mother Nature Network has a guide to greening your pet's diet. As with pet-care products, always consult with your vet about your pet's food, whether you're purchasing it or making it yourself.
Waste management: Clumping kitty litter, while convenient, is not biodegradable. Choose wheat based biodegradable kitty litters. Managing your dog's waste is also essential: This guide from Planet Green shows you how to dispose of your dog's waste in earth-friendly ways, including composting and using biodegradable bags.
Pest-free pets: Keep pests off your pets the nontoxic way. Planet Home, by Jeffrey Hollender and Alexandra Zissu, has great tips on how to keep your pets pest free without possibly harmful chemical dips and products. Putting a few drops of essential oils on your pet's collar can ward off ticks and fleas. You can also lightly mist your pet's fur and/or bed with a combination of 10 drops of essential oil and 2 cups of water, which you keep in a dark glass spray bottle. Check with your veterinarian before using essential oils on your pet.
How to Green Your Pet, from Grist: http://www.grist.org/article/collared-greens
How to Go Green: Pets, from Treehugger: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/03/how-to-go-green-pets.php