Top 10 Ways to Go Green With Your Pet Care (From a Vet's Point of View)
The era of environmental correctness is upon us—just in time, we hope. To that end, you should know that pet keeping isn’t always the greenest way to minimize your household’s carbon footprint. After all, pets often consume as much energy as you do—more in some cases. Nonetheless, there are ways to make sure you’re doing the best you can. Here are my top ten suggestions:
1. Eliminate all pet breeding except in the most responsible format. Ideally, that means that all dogs and cats in your care (and that means the outdoor cats you feed, too) should be spayed, neutered or kept in a mate-free environment—unless, that is, you have a purebred pet with superior genetic qualities and the know-how to produce healthy offspring.
2. Bring your cats indoors, if at all possible. Minimizing hunting of sensitive prey species is best for the environment. If you can’t keep them in at all times, be aware of migratory seasons and keep you cats indoors more often during these times of the year. At the very least, keep a loud bell on your kitty’s collar.
3. Utilize cat litter made of recycled materials produced nearby. Strips of newspaper or shredded paper works for many cats. Otherwise, make sure the brand of litter you buy isn’t hauled from across the country. Use wee-wee pads? Try newspaper training from the start, instead. It works just as well.
4. Trek your pets? Go for energy efficient car models and still meet their cargo needs. Check out PetConnection.com’s dogmobiles for best results on this front.
5. Keep breeds of pets that are appropriate to your environment. Heavy coated breeds are best in northern climes and short-coated in southern ones. Consider staying away from blunt-nosed breeds in hot locales where heavy AC use is needed to keep them most comfortable.
6. Make your own dog food or buy locally produced foods with locally grown ingredients, whenever possible. If you use commercial foods (as I do), consider supplementing with home-cooked leftovers as long as your pets don’t have major dietary restrictions. “Must-gos” from my fridge are the mainstay of my own dogs’ diet. It adds variety and premium-quality, locally grown ingredients to their diet while minimizing the load in my trash can.
7. Keep pets with agricultural uses to supplement your diet and minimize your shipped food intake. While this is definitely a major undertaking, it’s not as hard as you may think. Keeping chickens is fairly easy (and fun) and goats are the ultimate pleasure for those of you who value personality in your pets (and have the space to keep them).
8. Stay away from exotic, wild-caught pets. For each one of these who make the trip, several more die. Furthermore, their native environments suffer as a result of their removal.
9. Keep your pets lean—it reduces pet food waste and makes them healthier, too.
10. Consider using small, space-efficient animal hospitals and/or those who respect green ideals. New vet hospitals with green architecture and environmentally sound practices are starting to crop up all over the country. Consider that vets who share your concerns with respect to the environment are also more likely to click with your goals for your pet healthcare. Not always, of course, but it’s a sign of a progressive mind in my book.
Image: Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock