Green Chic: Organic Pet Care
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
I’ve been “green” before it was the “in”, “chic” thing to do….who knew. Well, now, from “green” eating, to “green” cleaning supplies I can attest to Kermit the frog’s sentiment that it’s often “not easy being green”. And, the one area, we, and most others struggle with is how to green not only our lifestyle, but that of our pet(s).
According to statistics almost 10 millions tons of waste products that are the direct byproducts of cats and dogs take a tremendous toll on our environment annually. Experts note that exposes excrement can contaminate both soil and groundwater adding disease-carrying bacteria and parasites to them, while refuse that is bagged tends to lay idle in landfills. In addition, pets are frequently exposed to harmful levels of toxins due to the food and toy/product choices we owners make on their behalf. In fact, a recent 2008 study suggests that the hazardous toxic exposure for dogs and cat’s was significantly greater and more varied than it was for their owners…and that they say should prompt loving pet parents to take immediate precautions and action.
* Consider crafting their toys: Store-bought products are often manufactured in foreign lands that use lead and cadmium, that can be harmful to animals, especially those that chew on them and ingest the components. Time takes its toll at toxic chemicals and metals affect the nervous system, red blood cells and bowels, which may even be fatal. Can’t make your own toys at home. Consider “homemade” products…..those manufactured in the U.S.A. You can create your own using organic cotton and/or wool stuffing using an old-school sewing machine. You can even transform your old jeans, towels, socks or other stealthy fabrics into healthy playthings for Fido.
· Go Organic: Organic foods aren’t just for humans anymore. In fact, some pet food tainted with melamine that resulted in the illness and death of many family pets, just two or so years ago, got the attention of lots of loving pet owners. And, while the threat is no longer immenintly there, the need to choose wisely “IS”. Organic pet food reduces your pet’s exposure to growth hormones, antibiotics, and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, some agricultural experts suggest that the byproducts of producing traditional pet food proteins can compromise the water and soil supply. Experts suggest opting for USDA approved organic pet foods, which meet the same standards as human organics. They also recommend talking with your Vet about how to make some homemade kibble and bits for your pet, always keeping in mind that cats and dogs need special and specific combinations of nutrients that are often determined by a variety of factors including animal type, breed, and age. Still, nutritionally balanced homemade meals fare far better than bagged or canned varieties, primarily because the digestive systems of cats and dogs tend to process fresh, raw foods better than they do cooked foods. Plus, a healthy diet of balances raw foods will build their bodies’ resistance to worms. Again, just make sure to discuss options and recipes with your Vet first.
· Properly discard of doo-doo: Consider taking excrement to mills that offer pet-specific systems that rely on enzymes and heat to eradicate dangerous pathogens from fecal matter and transform it into safe fertilizer. Another option is buring your pup’s poop away from gardens and water sources, keeping it clear of coming in potential contact with humans. It’s best to discard waste in biodegradable poop baggies comprised of cornstarch plastic, since these bags tend to be more sustainable than petroleum-based polyethylene.
Cat poo should always be bagged and placed in the trash since it can carry an infectious parasite that’s harmful to fetuses and those with weaker immune systems. Keep in mind that a large portion of the nearly 2 million tons of nonbiodegradable kitty litter that’s hauled off to landfills yearly contains quartz silica, which is recognized by the California Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogenic to pets and humans alike. Experts suggest biodegradable litter made from recycled newspaper, sawdust pellets, and corn. Another option: chemical-free, wheat based kitty litter available in natural food markets. For odor removal, simply dust kitty litter with baking soda.
· Protect your pet from pests: Experts note that flea and pest prevention can be potentially more harmful to pets and humans than the pest itself. In fact, many researches suggest that many animals have been injured, some fatally by the exposure to these pesky pesticides often found in flea collars, aerosol sprays and other pest control products. And, even The Environmental Protection Agency has deemed these products “dangerous” for kids, since they are the ones that most often play with pets and then rub their eyes, mouth, etc.
Instead of products containing carbaryl, propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos, consider sprinkling a hint of brewer’s years, fresh garlic or flaxseed oil in your pet’s food, since fleas hate the smell and taste. Experts add that fleas also hate the smell of pennyroyal, lavender, mint, rosemary, sweet woodruff, and ceder…so you may want to add some of these scents to a collar or bandana and place it around your pet’s neck or rub the dried herbs into your pet’s coat. Another option is an herbal flea collar sold at a host of health food stores and pet stores respectively. If fleas have already gotten to your pet, sprinkle all pet beds, carpets, and lounging areas with boric acid salts….known to kill flea larvae sand harming pets or people.
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