Pets and the Planet: How to Become an Eco-friendly Pet Owner

Pets provide much joy to their owners, who are often willing to do whatever it takes in an effort to reciprocate the unconditional love they get from their pets. While toys and treats make pets happy, one of the best things pet owners can do to express their love for their four-legged friends is to make an effort to be more eco-friendly in regard to caring for their furry, finned or feathered friends.

An eco-friendly approach to pet ownership can protect pets’ health and the planet at the same time. Pet owners may be surprised to learn just how easy it can be to incorporate eco-friendly practices into their pet care routines.

Avoid using pesticides in the yard. The Pesticide Action Network notes that pets can absorb pesticides through their mouths, noses and eyes when walking through lawns and gardens that were treated with pesticides. Powdered pesticides also may stick to pets’ fur, and dogs may absorb chemical residues by chewing or eating plants that were treated with pesticides. Thanks to their grooming habits, cats allowed to roam free in yards may be especially vulnerable to lawns treated with pesticides. When tending to their lawns, pet owners who want to be more eco-friendly can embrace organic lawn care practices, such as composting and using organic fertilizers.

Be mindful of waste and waste cleanup. The feces of dogs contain bacteria that, if left on lawns and/or walkways, can ultimately find its way into and contaminate bodies of water due to runoff. So it’s important that pet owners routinely pick up their pets’ waste. Biodegradable, plant-based pet waste bags are eco-friendly options that can help reduce the environmental impact of pet waste.

Use natural cleaning solutions when cleaning up after pets indoors. Chemical-based cleaning solutions may be especially effective at cleaning up pet stains and eradicating pet-related odors, but such products can have a negative effect on indoor air quality. Various consumer advocacy organizations have noted that chemical-based air fresheners and general purpose cleaners are major sources of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes can produce various short- and long-term adverse health effects. When cleaning up after their pets, pet owners should use only chemical-free cleaners that won’t adversely affect indoor air quality. Eco-friendly pet ownership can be simple and protect the lives of pets and their owners.

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.