All About Pets

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Go green with your pet

Environmentally conscious lifestyles are a way of life for many people. But while men and women may look to hybrid cars or energy-saving appliances to reduce their carbon footprints, few may know they can go green with their pets, too.

Pet care is likely not the first thing pet owners think of when they look to tweak their lifestyles to make them more environmentally friendly. But there are many ways pet owners can take a more eco-friendly approach to caring for their pets.

• Buy environmentally friendly toys and supplies. Many businesses now produce products with the environment in mind, and manufacturers of pet products are no exception. When buying toys and supplies for your furry friends, look for products made from recycled materials or natural fibers. Such products may even be packaged in post-consumer materials like recycled paper.

• Buy in bulk. Buying pet items in bulk can be both eco-friendly and convenient. Buying in bulk means less frequent trips to the store, which conserves fuel and saves you time. Buying in bulk also means less packaging, which conserves resources and leads to less plastic and cardboard finding its way into landfills.

• Keep a watchful on your pets. Pets that are allowed to roam free can have an adverse impact on local wildlife. For example, cats that are allowed out to roam your yard and the yards of your neighbors may be on the prowl for birds, and killing birds can have a negative impact on local ecosystems. Each bird death caused by a cat is preventable if pet owners simply keep their feline friends inside, which veterinarians note is good for the average cat's life expectancy. In addition, keep your dog on a leash when taking Fido for a walk or to the park, as dogs also are prone to some questionable behavior when off the leash and out from under the watchful eyes of their owners.

• Embrace organic foods. Many humans are turning to organic-only diets, and there is no reason why pet owners can't let their four-legged friends in on the fun. Certified organic pet foods are created without the use of any harmful pesticides, hormones and artificial ingredients, making them healthier for both the family dog and the planet on which he roams and chases his frisbee.

• Clean up in an eco-friendly way. Cleaning up after your pet has done his business is perhaps the least enjoyable part of pet ownership. But dog owners can make picking up their pooches' poop more eco-friendly by using biodegradable poop bags in lieu of plastic bags from the grocery store or elsewhere. Plastic bags will sit in landfills for years to come, while biodegradable bags will decompose over time. Cat owners can also make cleaning up after their pets more eco-friendly and healthy for their furry friends by using environmentally friendly cat litters that don't contain strip-mined clay or clay sediment that can contribute to feline respiratory problems.

There are many ways eco-conscious pet owners can reduce their carbon footprints without expending much effort at all.