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Posted by Ann Greenberger | Sep 22, 2009

Greener Dogs and Cats

Green Pet-Care Tips

Going green isn't just for humans anymore. Your pet deserves the same care you give yourself, and it will benefit the environment, too. Naturally, the first step is to recycle your pet's empty food cans. Here you will find new ideas for greening your pet: hemp collars, durable toys, biodegradable poop bags, and a perfectly green kennel for those inevitable times you must be away from your beloved pet.

Maximize Use of Chemical-Free Products

Think about making a change from pesticide-ridden traditional flea and tick remedies to healthy and eco-friendly options. A change in diet can actually repel fleas and ticks the natural way. Try adding nutrients such as brewer's yeast to your pet's diet. The flavor of brewer's yeast makes the taste of your pet's blood highly undesirable to fleas and ticks. Or, buy a natural flea/tick spray ($13) or collar for your pet. These herbal flea repellents contain rosemary, mind, cedar, and citronella. Finally, ask your groomer for organic and natural pet shampoo without parabens or phosphates. These chemicals wash down the drain and into our water system, and may also irritate your pet's skin.

Choose Natural and Biodegradable Kitty Litter and Poop Bags

Kitty litter seems harmless enough--it's just clay. That's natural, right? Yes, but of the clay ends up in plastic bags in landfills. Millions of tons of clay are strip-mined annually to make kitty litter. There are some inexpensive and easy alternatives. Consider using old newspapers, or try flushable organic kitty litter. New litters are less dusty and just as absorbent as clay. These nontoxic, biodegradable, chemical-free and flushable litters are made from pine and wheat ( $14 for 14 pounds).

Are you using plastic grocery bags as poop bags? Unfortunately, 3-4 percent of residential landfills contact pet waste in plastic bags that are not biodegradable. Most dog parks dispense biodegradable poop bags, so make use of these when you go to the park. Dogipot is a company that provides biodegradable dog waste bags at dispensers for many public parks, hotels, community areas, and dog parks. These biodegradable poop bags are also available to individual pet owners, 200 bags for $9. . Another option for disposing of dog poop is a mini-septic system. Mini septic systems cost less than $60 and look like small plastic trash cans.

Eco-Friendly Dog Beds and Collars

There are several eco-friendly dog beds on the market that are filled with recycled poly fill. If you want a unique item for your dog, or to give as a gift, this recycled sail cloth dog bed cover is $85 and made from used sail cloth from American yachts, racing boats, and Americas Cup boats. Each year this effort saves 20 thousand yards of sail cloth from the landfills. Your pet's bed cover will come with a unique number or stamp from the original sail.

Hemp dog collars are attractive and colorful. What makes hemp an eco-friendly product? It is stronger than cotton and resists tears and mildew. Hemp improves soil fertility and doesn't require pesticides when it's grown. Hemp dog collars are $31.

Recycled Pet Toys

Too many cheap pet toys end up in landfills. Find pet toys made of non-toxic, durable, and recycled materials. Think of it this way: If you buy your poodle one well-made toy instead of 15 toys that last about 3 minutes, you are saving money and the environment. Locally made products save fuel and reduce emissions because they don't have to be shipped across the country. Try a natural rubber chew bone or the tug toy Twist that is soft and colorful, and made from recycled plastic bottles. Don't forget the do-it-yourself solution--fill a sock with catnip, or string a toy on a piece of rope and knot the ends. Last but not least--catnip eyeballs. Yes, that's right. And they are made from recycled material. Check it out: Cat-Nip Eyeballs.

Green Kennel

Vacation is even better when you know your pet is well cared for. Chicago is way ahead of the curve. Greendoginc in Chicago offers indoor and outdoor areas for your pet. Everything is nontoxic and organic--the food, the cleaning methods, and toys. Plus your dog will lap up filtered water and sniff clean filtered air. During nap time your dog can relax with aromatherapy. One night is $45 and the daycare options include two days a week for $28.

Switching to natural and organic products for your pet is easy and inexpensive. Make it a daily habit to save the habitat. It makes a world of difference to you and your pet.

Photo credit: Eco Dog Harness from Annie's Sweat Shop on Etsy.com.

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