How Green is That Doggie in the Window?

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

So often we talk of greening homes and making healthy, eco-friendly choices when it comes to the food we eat, but what about our beloved furry, finned or feathered pets? Below are some handy hints for eco-friendly pet care.

A good place to start would be adopting from a local shelter. The main reason for doing this is to ensure that you are not supporting unethical breeders who manage large-scale operations that breed puppies in appalling conditions. Often these animals are riddled with diseases that become costly for owners, can spread to other pets, and ultimately end in heart-break when the animal dies. Another benefit of adopting a pet is that many shelters will neuter pets. Unchecked breeding in animals can have a major affect on the environment not least of which are diseases such as rabies and toxoplasmosis.

Non-toxic, organic products are available for pets. Baking soda is a good option for cleaning pets, especially cats which are not so fond of water. Give your pet a dry bath by gentling rubbing baking soda into their coat and then brushing till the soda has disappeared. Baking soda can also be used on pet’s bedding to keep it odour-free. Simply sprinkle their favourite sleeping spot with baking soda, let it stand for fifteen minutes before going over the area with a vacuum.

When cleaning up after your pet, rather compost waste than placing it in a plastic bag. If you don’t have space for a composter rather dispose of their waste in biodegradable bags. If your pet lives in a cage, all you need do is wipe the cage with a sponge sprinkled with baking soda and vinegar. Both remove stains and odours.

Other green pet care tips:

• Look for cat scratching posts that are made from recycled cardboard. In fact, many stores are beginning to stock toys made from recycled goods.

• Always check the ingredients of pet food. Manufacturers may use terms such as “premium” or “gourmet” but these are often nothing more than fatty clumps of meat packed with preservatives. You can prepare meals for your pet. You will have more control over your pet’s nutrition and fewer landfill-clogging tins.

• Recycle food tins, plastic chew toys and the packaging for any products you buy for your pet.

• Get rid of fleas by mixing lemon peel and water. Leave the mix overnight before sponging your pet.

The web is filled with resources for organic and eco-friendly pet care ideas. Remember to cross reference them and if you are in any doubt check with your vet. For example, garlic, if added to food, is said to repel fleas. However, there are some reports stating that in certain quantities garlic is toxic to pets, particularly cats.

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