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How To Be An Eco-Friendly Pet Owner

Jul 30th, 2020

There are plenty of things we love here at AMLI. We love our residents, we love our pets, we love our cities and, of course, we love our planet

When we think of green living, we often think about the cleaning products we use and whether or not they are good for the environment (if you’re looking for some great tips and suggestions, check out our article here!). We also think about eco-friendly practices with regards to recycling and why it’s so important to recycle properly and carefully. Green living encompasses nearly every aspect of our lives from cooking to cleaning to commuting to composting, and we love to learn more about how we can protect the environment around us in everything we do.

We can be eco-friendly cooks, eco-friendly consumers, eco-friendly travelers and eco-friendly workers, just to name a few. But what about being an eco-friendly pet owner? How do we do that?

We don’t have to tell you that looking after our cats, dogs, birds, hamsters or rabbits takes plenty of love and care. After all, we would do anything for our pets! But pet ownership is not always the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about sustainable practices. Thankfully, looking after both our pets and our planet doesn’t have to be a difficult job at all, and there are plenty of ways, both large and small, that you can contribute to greener pastures for you, your pet and your planet!

How to be an eco-friendly pet owner

Spay and neuter your pets

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, millions of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are euthanized every year because they are unwanted in homes and on the streets. By spaying and neutering your pets, you help your furry companions avoid health problems like testicular cancer, uterine infections and breast tumors. Plus, there are no unwanted litters of puppies and kittens popping up on the streets or ending up at animal shelters.

For more information on spaying and neutering your pets, check out

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CUTE STORY ALERT!😭🧡 Leonard “Leo” Shelton of Liberty City, Florida, tried for weeks to round up a neighborhood stray dog. “She would never come to me,” Leo says of the large terrier mix he called Sheila. “She looked pregnant, tired and worn out. But I knew I had to find a way to bring her home and help her.” Leo lives just minutes from the ASPCA’s new Community Veterinary Center (CVC) which opened last November in Liberty City. When he finally caught Sheila, Leo made appointment for an exam there on February 18.  Dr. Hyunmin Kim treated Sheila for fleas, confirmed her advanced pregnancy, supplied a leash and a collar and provided helpful advice about Sheila’s impending delivery. Early the next morning, Sheila delivered 11 healthy puppies in Leo’s one-bedroom apartment. In just five hours, his family of canines—including his Lab mix named Buddy—went from two to 13. A day after the pups were born, the ASPCA Community Engagement team, including Marlan Roberts, Manager, and Cassie Vazquez, Coordinator, visited Leo’s home to check on Sheila and the pups and provide food for the nursing mother.  The Miami team planned to give the pups their first set of shots on April 5—when they would be seven weeks old. Because he doesn’t have a car, Leo borrowed a shopping buggy and placed the pups in a tub that fit snugly into the cart. All 11—Apollo, Boss, EJ, Junior, Liberty, Mini-me, Nikita, Pebbles, Ringo, Saint Ben and Sweetie—were examined, weighed and vaccinated.  Leo promoted the puppies on social media and kept track of their adoptions through regular posts. EJ was adopted first; Apollo last. Two adopters even drove all the way from Brooklyn, New York, to adopt Nikita and Sweetie. They met Leo at the CVC for the pups’ booster shots, flea and tick preventative treatments, and de-wormer. His next step is to have Sheila spayed once the CVC gets back to its non-emergency schedule.🧡 #aspca #puppies #dogsofinstagram 

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Feed your pet sustainable food

Every dog, cat and pet is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to what type of food to feed them. However, there is a sustainable food option for every kind of pet out there, from Great Danes to Siamese cats to Holland Lops. 

Switch food brands

You could switch your regular pet food brand to one that uses sustainable-sourced ingredients and relies on ethical practices. Check out this website for more info on sustainable pet food brands!

Make your own pet food

If you’re up for a challenge, why not try making your own pet food? If you’re looking to go down this path, though, make sure you consult with your veterinarian extensively before trying it yourself. Your pet’s health is the number-one priority, so be two-hundred percent sure that you’re following a careful preparation and nutritional plan before giving it a go. 

Buy in bulk

If you’re not able to switch brands or cook your own food for whatever reason, then you could still make a huge difference by buying your pet’s food in bulk! Instead of buying individual cans of cat food wrapped in plastic covering, buy a bulk box that you can recycle later on. These little changes can make a huge difference!

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While it's important to implement as many sustainable practices as we can for our own lives, it's also important that we remember our furry friends! Here are a few eco-friendly pet practices to get you started: 🌱 Many pet toys are made from non-sustainable materials that are not only bad for the environment, but aren't necessarily the best for your pet's health either. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives, so do some research next time you're looking for something new! 🌱 Dog and cat poop isn't always safe to leave out in your yard or throw away, so compost it if you can! 🌱 If you don't yet own a pet but you're looking to expand your family, consider adopting from a shelter. This might save a life, but it also saves a lot of resources! 🌱 #ecofriendlypets #dogs #dogsofinstagram #cats #catsofinstagram #hikingwithdogs #campingwithdogs #greenpetfood #sustainability #sustainablepetfood #gogreen #sustainableliving #compost #leadwithyourlifestyle

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Use natural pet shampoo

We wouldn’t want to put toxic ingredients into our hair and onto our skin, so why would we do that to our dogs? Not only are organic and natural pet shampoos better for your pet’s skin and fur, but you’ll also know that you aren’t rinsing a load of chemicals and toxins down the drain. It’s also never a bad idea to ask your vet what they recommend, especially if your pet has any skin or allergy problems.

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Man's best friend deserves only the best 🐾⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ With an estimated 90 million pet dogs and 94 million pet cats in the United States alone, taking care of our pets is producing more plastic waste than we think (APPA). Therefore, cutting down on your pet's consumption of materials could greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Over the next couple weeks we will be taking you through the ins and outs of making the switch to sustainable pet products- from food and toys, to pet hair removal and potty pads, and everything in between- that will work for your lifestyle. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Stay tuned to find the paw-fect fit for your furry friend! What is one thing you would like to find a sustainable alternative to?

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Use eco-friendly cat litter and poop bags correctly

Find a cat litter that doesn’t contain chemicals or toxins that could be harmful to humans and cats, especially if you’re in an enclosed space like an apartment. Here’s a list of some of the best natural cat litters on the market today!

When it comes to poop bags, be extra careful when choosing a brand and disposing of waste, as many self-proclaimed ‘biodegradable’ poop bags are far from being eco-friendly. For starters, poop bags that are thrown away in the trash will likely never degrade, no matter how biodegradable the plastic. Garbage in landfills is ‘mummified’ due to the lack of oxygen and the immense compression, making the eco-friendly poop bags not so eco-friendly anymore.

When you purchase a truly eco-friendly brand of poop bags, dispose of the waste at a dog-waste-only compost bin, by burying it in the ground (5 inches underground, at least!) or by taking it to a composting facility (check out this article for more tips on disposing of pet waste correctly).

Combine errands with dog walks

Why drive to the store when you could walk your dog there instead? That way, not only does your dog get its regular dose of exercise, but you cut down on carbon emissions from your car. It’s a win-win!

Skip the plastic toys

Many parents today are opting out of plastic, battery-powered toys and choosing the more natural route of entertainment. If human babies can thrive on wooden toys while saving the planet, then there’s no reason why fur-babies can’t do the same! 

Find toys that are recyclable or that use natural materials, or make your own toys with old socks, rags or newspaper! Check out this article for more info on how to do both.

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Being a more eco-friendly cat parent doesn’t have to start all at once. There are small changes you can make like these ones that will help you ease into it:⁣ ♻️ Next time you want to reward your cat with a new toy, consider purchasing one that’s made from wood, wool or cotton! Toys made from these materials are easier to recycle, unlike plastic, which can take decades to decompose once tossed in the trash.⁣ 🌎 Avoid cat products made using harmful chemicals, including silica clay. Clay has to be strip mined, which is a process that can contaminate the surrounding water & displaces wildlife.⁣ 😻 Spay or neuter your cat. One female cat can give birth to up to 5 litters of kittens each year. Every kitten born requires additional resources, which can create an even bigger burden on the environment.⁣ ⁣ For more tips about how to go green as a cat parent, see this article from Blue & Green Tomorrow by clicking the link in our bio.

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Looking after our pets is a priority, and so is looking after our planet. By finding ways to look after one without sacrificing the other, we can rest easy knowing that our lifestyle is beneficial to both.

Good luck!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/99mimimi

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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