We spend extra money to buy all-natural household cleansers, body care products, and organic food. Why would we treat our pets differently? A variety of natural products—from shampoos to natural dog food—are available that protect both our furry-friends and our environment.
When looking for organic pet products, be sure to look for respected international certifications of the USDA Ogranic label to ensure your pet is actually getting an organic product.
All-Natural Pet Accessories
Pets are more sensitive to environmental toxins than humans, and they can suffer from allergies.
Purchase pet toys, beds and apparel made from natural fibers such as hemp or organic cotton. Organic cotton is not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, and is often colored with non-toxic dyes.
Your pet will also appreciate a hemp collar. Unlike synthetic collars, hemp softens over time becoming increasingly more comfortable. Herbal flea collars effectively keep pests away and serve as a deodorizer.
Natural Cleaning Products (Shampoos, Deodorizers, Stain Removers)
Natural pet care products are available for shampooing and grooming your pet. Organic shampoo and conditioner are often a better option for pets who have sensitive skin or skin allergies.
Natural stain removers are also a better option for everyone in your house. When your cat leaves a stain on your favorite rug or couch, clean it up with phosphate-free products, and use non-toxic sprays made with vegetable enzymes to eliminate pet odors.
Eco-Friendly Poop 'n' Scoop
Dogs and cats produce about 10 million tons of waste each year. Most of this excrement is deposited in plastic bags that end up in landfills or sewer systems, where they take centuries to break down. A greener option is disposing animal waste in biodegradable bags, or better yet, why not compost it?
Many readymade backyard composters can break down pet waste, or you make your own. All you need is an old plastic garbage can, a saw (or tool for cutting the can), a drill, and some septic starter from the hardware store. Drill holes in the sides of the garbage can and cut the bottom off. Dig a hole in the ground, away from your vegetable garden, that is deep enough to hold the garbage can. Place rocks or gravel in the bottom of the hole for drainage. When you place the can into the hole, the top just should be just above the ground. Cover it with the lid. Drop some animal excrement into the can, sprinkle in some septic starter and add water. After 48 hours, waste can be added daily. This waste will biodegrade and flow into the subsoil. Just be very careful to never use the compost in a vegetable, fruit or herb garden, as animal stools contain E. coli bacteria that can contaminate your food.
Eco-Friendly Kitty Litter
More than 2 million tons of non-biodegradable cat litter ends up in landfills each year. Cat litter is made from mined clumping clay, which often contains silica dust, a known carcinogen. The litter also contains sodium bentonite, aclumping agent which can expand up to 15 times its size if it enters your cat’s digestive system.
Look for non-toxic, biodegradable litter that doesn’t create dust. Try litter made from recycled newspapers, as newspapers absorb moisture just as effectively as conventional clumping litter. Litter made from reclaimed wood or pine pellets is also available; the sawdust, which otherwise generally ends up in landfills, is concentrated without the use of dangerous chemicals to produce an environmentally-friendly litter.
Natural or Organic Pet Food
Commercial pet food often contains less-than-ideal ingredients such as "animal by-products" (which usually means it's unfit for human consumption), "meat meal" (which might include road kill or meat from rotten and diseased animals), and other harmful ingredients and additives that we knowingly would not feed our beloved pets.
Instead, purchase natural dog food or organic pet food made from quality meat and includes vegetables, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and essential fatty acids. Read labels carefully and look for pet foods with ingredients that are "source verified" meaning, the company works directly with suppliers to ensure the safety and quality of each ingredient.
If you choose to make your own food, your pets will benefit from using organic meat. For a richer source of nutrients, purchase organic organ meat, such as turkey neck. Include a source of fiber, such as ground flax or psyllium husk, and dried sea vegetables for trace minerals. Don’t forget a source of essential fatty acid (fish oil is best) to maintain a soft, shiny coat and support their immune system.
More on natural pet care from Naturally Savvy:
Savvy Guide to Natural Pet Health Care, Part I
Savvy Guide to Natural Pet Health Care, Part II
Natural Heartworm Prevention for Pets
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