Live lightly on the earth.
That’s good advice for everyone, including pet owners.
If you’d like to reduce your dog or cat’s carbon pawprint, here are some ways you can help Mother Nature out.
Purchase food and water bowls that are made of long-lasting, easy-to-clean materials. If they are made of recycled materials, so much the better. The first choice that comes to mind is stainless steel dishes. They are dishwasher-safe, don’t cause allergies like some plastic and rubber dishes, and will last the lifetimes of multiple dogs. Even better, all stainless steel products are fully recyclable.
Choose sturdy toys that are made from sustainable, recycled or biodegradable materials such as hemp or bamboo and contain no toxic dyes or finishing agents. Prefer toys made in the United States, not only because of reduced shipping costs but also because cheap foreign-made toys may contain high levels of the heavy metals lead, cadmium and chromium. Good choices include products made by Earthdog, Ecoanimal, Kong, Nina Ottosson, Planet Dog, Simply Fido and West Paw Design. To save money, rotate a few high-quality toys instead of purchasing a lot of inexpensive, easily destroyed ones.
Take a look at the type of cat litter you use. Clay litter is produced by strip-mining so it’s not very Earth-friendly. If your cat is willing to change—the most important factor—consider litter made from recycled newspapers, wheat, corn cobs or similar plant-based materials. Most of them are less dusty than clay litter—better for your lungs and your cat’s lungs—and some are flushable or biodegradable. Silica-gel “pearls” are another option. Odorless and highly absorbent, they don’t have to be changed as often as other litters, so they can be wallet-friendly as well. Whatever you choose, your cat will like it best if it doesn’t have any artificial scents that will irritate his sensitive nose.
Pick up poop and dispose of it properly. That’s especially important in coastal California, where waste runoff drains to the ocean. Besides contaminating the ocean or other water sources, the bacteria, viruses and parasites from pet waste can infect people and wildlife. Place waste in a trashcan, ideally in a biodegradable or compostable bag made of recycled materials. (Never compost pet waste at home.) Many greenspaces in Lake Forest provide waste-bag dispensers and trash receptacles. If you carry your own, products to consider include Dispoz-A-Scoop by HealthPro Products, Dog Waste Bags by BioBags, and the Skooperbox.
Back off on the use of herbicides and insecticides on your lawn—especially if you have a Scottish Terrier, Shetland Sheepdog, Beagle, West Highland White Terrier or Wirehaired Fox Terrier. All of these breeds have a higher incidence of transitional cell carcinoma, the most common cancer of the canine urinary bladder, which has been linked to environmental factors that include exposure to lawns treated with herbicides and insecticides.
Use household cleaning products that are pet-safe. The ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center reports that household cleaners such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants are among the most common causes of toxicity to pets. Avoid products such as continuous toilet-bowl cleaners and products that give off fumes, such as drain openers and floor cleaners, or that contain bleach, ammonia, chlorine, phthalates, phenols, perchloroethylene, or formaldehyde. Cats are especially prone to being poisoned by toxic products because they are likely to lick their paws after coming in contact with them.
Spay or neuter your pet to eliminate the risk of unwanted litters and reduce the numbers of animals relinquished to shelters. Support trap-neuter-release programs for feral cat colonies in your neighborhood. Prevent your cats and dogs from roaming and using your neighbors’ yards as their potty areas.
Wash your hands after handling raw meat or eggs or pet food, including dry food. They can be contaminated with salmonella bacteria, which can be transmitted to people or animals with weak immune systems. Young children, elderly people, and people with autoimmune illnesses are especially at risk.
Pet of the Week
This week’s featured pet is Jillian, a 2 year old, brindle and white, female, pit bull mix. Shelter volunteers say that Jillian is a fun-loving and energetic gal who can’t wait to find her perfect match! She loves to go on walks and play with her tennis ball. If you’re looking for a running buddy, then Jillian is your girl. Her ID# is A1189791.