5 ways to go green for pets

As an animal lover and steward of our earth, I am always looking for ways to be a greener pet owner. At first glance it seemed challenging. After all, our pets don't share our affinity for big houses, fancy cars or vacations to Europe. But it didn't take much consideration before I identified several ways we are able to lessen our pets' carbon paw print. Here are just a few:

Pick Up and Compost Dog Poop

Dog feces contains many harmful pathogens that leach into our water sources and pollute. Once there, it causes a proliferation of algae that deplete oxygen reserves and subsequently kill aquatic life. All dog waste should be safely removed and then properly composted to kill the pathogens so that it can decompose in a non-harmful manner.

Use Biodegradable Cat Litter

Special biodegradable kitty litter is better for the environment for a few reasons. It decomposes more quickly than clay litters, contains fewer or no harmful chemicals, and doesn't require strip mining in the production process.

Avoid Plastic and Individually-Wrapped Food or Snacks

Even if you're conscientious about recycling your plastic, it's still plastic. It uses valuable, non-renewable fossil fuels to produce and never biodegrades! So stay away from those plastic tubs and single-serving plastic pouches. Always opt for biodegradable packaging like paper or cardboard when you can, and choose metal cans rather than plastic trays for moist food.

Be Creative with the Toys

Instead of purchasing stuffed mice or bones, consider making your own pet toys out of old socks, knotted rope, or even discarded plastic soda bottles filled with a few pebbles. Your pets don't care how "cute" their toys are, or what color or brand they are. Every time you make a toy out of scrap supplies you reduce your carbon footprint just a bit.

Restrain Your Pets to Protect Wildlife

According to the American Bird Conservancy, cats kill hundreds of millions of birds and more than a billion small mammals - such as rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels - each year. Dogs also do their share of damage. Because our ecosystems weren't designed for the introduction of so many domesticated predators, the animals they kill can and do have a tragic effect on local wildlife populations. Entire colonies of the endangered least tern can be wiped out in as little as a few days once free-roaming cats discover their nesting sites. So to be truly green, you should keep your cats indoors and your dogs restrained at all times.

Sources:

"Pet Waste Composting," CompostGuy.com

"Cats Indoors," American Bird Conservancy

Mott, Maryann, "U.S. Faces Growing Feral Cat Problem," National Geographic

More from Cherri:

Best ways to bond with a new puppy

Benefits of playing with your dog outside

5 things pets teach us about relationships