Help your pet & the environment
Below are a few tips to be more eco-friendly as a pet owner.
1) Don't Smoke. If you do smoke, keep cigarette butts in the trash: do not throw them on the ground. Pick up cigarette butts if you see them:
Cigarette butts can contain toxic levels of nicotine and other harmful chemicals
Cigarette butts are generally made of plastic, and do not degrade in the environment - they are sometimes mistaken for a food item and besides being toxic, they may also cause intestinal blockages in small animals.
2) Reduce or eliminate the use of lawn chemicals. If you feel that you must treat your lawn, avoid treating the areas of the lawn that are used by pets and spot treat individual weeds rather than blanketing the entire lawn with herbicide. Even though lawn chemicals (fertilizers, weed killers and insecticides) are diluted and "safe" (i.e.: "non-toxic") at levels present after applications have dried, studies conducted by Purdue University and other facilities show a significantly higher risk of chronic health problems, including cancer, in animals with occasional exposure to these chemicals and chemical combinations. Remember, pets are closer to the ground and lick their feet, so they have a much higher level of exposure. [see lawn treatment alternative handout listed at left]
3) Use biodegradable pet litter: consider wheat, corn, or newspaper based cat litter (pine is not liked by many cats).
Advantage: Clay based litters are obtained from open pit mining [strip mining] - very hard on the environment, Clay based litters contain crystalline silica (while similar to asbestos, generally in such small amounts that it is not a major concern).
Disadvantage: some natural cat litters contain more dust - irritating to some people and pets. Some natural litters are less absorbent than clay (One Earth corncob litter is reported to be twice as absorbent as clay). Natural cat litters tend to be more expensive.
4) Choose "exotic" pets carefully: Try to select "domestic bred" reptiles and rodents. Select only farm-raised or "Eco-Friendly caught" aquarium fish. Wild-caught fish (especially marine/salt water fish) are frequently captured using cyanide or dynamite, both of which kill more fish then they stun and destroy the fish's natural environment. The Marine Aquarium Council now certifies fish as being caught in an eco-friendly manner.
5) Don't Litter: have your dogs and cats spayed or neutered. Stray and feral pets running at large cause tremendous impact to local wildlife as well as being a public nuisance and threat to public health. Local governments and pet rescue charities spend millions of dollars each year finding homes for or euthanizing unwanted pure-breed as well as mix-breed dogs and cats. In Marion County, Indiana alone, over 1/2 million pets are euthanized annually due to lack of available homes. This places a financial drain not only on the charities, but on the local governments tax dollars as well. [see spay/neuter handout]
6) If a pet does not work out - be a responsible pet parent and locate a new home for the pet or turn it over to a rescue/adoption group. Cats and dogs are not adapted to surviving long term outdoors without supplemental food and shelter. Reptiles, amphibians, rabbits, rodents are even less well adapted. When released into the wild, not only do the animals suffer, but the local ecology can also be seriously affected (feral cats - domestic cats living free in the "wild", have been found to prey to a much greater extent on the "native" wildlife (voles, song birds, hummingbirds, moles, shrews) than on "introduced" pest species such as mice, rats, starlings, sparrows, or pigeons). Feral dogs have been known to attach children and pets playing outside. Even native wildlife should not be re-released unless you know the exact location where they were originally collected (special permits are required to keep native wildlife as pets). A few studies have shown a serious impact on a species genetics when one or two individuals were captured in one area of their natural domain, then released fifteen to twenty miles away.
7) Consider hemp or canvas instead of nylon for leashes and collars. Hemp and canvas are made from renewable materials rather than from petroleum chemicals. Many nylons also off-gas toxic compounds for the first several months after manufacture.
Some Environmental Friendly pet ideas we do not support:
1) Feeding all - natural and organic pet foods, bison meat, etc.
In pet food usage, "Natural" and "Holistic" have no legally definition. Organic is only has legal meaning if it is USDA Organic Certified. These terms are meaningless marketing strategies intended to grab the shoppers attention. "Organic" pet foods tend to not have adequate nutritional testing to ensure that they will meet our pet's needs. Organic pet foods also tend to not be nutritionally stable, so any nutritional value they do have may deteriorate rapidly. Pet life spans have increased dramatically, in a large part due to research by the major pet food manufacturers. [see nutrition information handout]
2) Using "natural" flea treatments: most of these very from very weak to completely ineffective. Borate (Flea Stoppers) is the most effective of these products, but is a mined mineral. Citrus Oils and marigold extracts are the most potent of the "natural" insecticides, but there are many populations of resistant insects, especially fleas. Both citrus oils and marigold extracts can be extremely poisonous to some animals, especially cats. [see flea handout]
3) Cedar Bedding: Cedar, a natural, renewable fiber is also a weak insecticide that is commonly touted as an excellent material to use as small mammal cage litter or for filling pet beds. Cedar oils have been associated with chronic liver disease and liver toxicity in some animals. We feel that pets exposure to these oils should be limited.