Pasadena Humane’s tips on how to balance pet ownership with going green ecologically

Hollie (A497374) is described as a “wiggly” dog and just loves to be around people. She is generally good on leash and is known to be house-trained. If yours is an active and energetic household, Hollie might just be the dog for you. Give Hollie her dream life in your home!

Last week, the employees and volunteers of Pasadena Humane celebrated Earth Day by partnering with Pasadena City workers to clean up Central Park. We shoveled mountains of mulch, wrangled wheelbarrows, wrestled weeds, and made some green space just a little bit nicer for everyone.

We spend a lot of time at Central Park walking dogs, sitting outside to have lunch, or just taking a stroll on a break. So it felt good to give a little back to a space that has given us so much over the years.

It was a fun morning for our folks, and served as a great reminder that caring for the earth around us is the responsibility of everyone. And it’s our responsibility every day – not just on Earth Day.

From a very young age, I was taught to follow the three “R’s” of environmental responsibility: Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Over the years, I’ve learned to integrate those principles into how I care for my pets.

Believe it or not, as a pet owner, there are lots of ways to go green. You can start with the basics, like picking up poop, and even change the way you care for your dog by choosing environmentally friendly products.

Here are some tips for you and your pet to be a bit more eco-friendly:

Scoop the poop. Every time!

I’ve been scooping pet poop for more years than I can count. I don’t mind it though, because I understand how important it is for the environment. Why? Because to put it simply, pet poop has got some harmful stuff in it. Pet waste may contain pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and parasitic worms that can be transmitted to humans who are gardening in contaminated soils or swimming in infected water. The phosphorus and nitrogen in dog excrement can also be harmful to marine life and contribute to toxic algae.

Use biodegradable, compostable bags for dog waste. Then simply throw it all in the trash. Flushing dog feces down the toilet, without the bag, of course, is the best way to dispose of it.

If you want to be an environmental over achiever, you can compost dog waste. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) describes exactly how to do this. Just know that dog waste compost cannot be used on vegetable, fruit, or any edible plants.

Bulk up. Buy food and other pet supplies in bulk.

This reduces trips to the store and the amount of packaging you contribute to the landfill. Pay attention to packaging materials, and try to buy products packaged in recycled or recyclable materials. Store food and treats in reusable storage containers instead of in plastic bags.

Support environmentally conscious manufacturers.

Support environmentally conscious manufacturers by buying eco-friendly pet products, such as those made from recycled materials. In fact, before you buy, see if friends or family can offer used leashes, collars, crates, and other products. It not only saves money, but it also keeps those items from ending up in a landfill.

Use environmentally friendly shampoo and grooming products.

There are lots of products on the market that are made of plant-based, natural, or sustainably produced materials. Most of these products tend to be less irritating to your pets skin anyway, so it’s a win-win!

Beware of toxic flea and tick prevention products.

Some flea and tick preventatives have harmful chemicals that leave residue on your dog’s fur and around the house.

Ask your veterinarian about oral flea-prevention (which is what I use for my pets), and if you must use topical treatments, ask about those that have plant-based ingredients or safer chemicals, such as s-methoprene or pyriproxyfen.

As a preventive measure against fleas and ticks, bathe and groom your dog regularly, and use a fine-toothed comb on his coat often to remove fleas.

Wash bedding in hot water, wipe down surfaces often, and vacuum the floor and all soft furnishings frequently.

Get creative with toys.

When you buy toys, look for those made of recycled or biodegradable materials. An even better option is to make your own dog toys. It’s a handy way to use up scraps of yarn or fabric, old T-shirts, and other items you’d probably throw away. Whenever practical, wash old toys instead of throwing them away.

Give away, don’t throw away.

Animal shelters like Pasadena Humane can make great use of old towels and toys your dog isn’t interested in. We also welcome gently used leashes, crates, and beds.

Feed your dog safely.

Plastic bowls are porous and prone to gouges and cracks, so it’s wise to avoid them.

Your best option is stainless steel, which is nonporous, easy to sanitize in the dishwasher, rust-resistant, and doesn’t leach chemicals. Glass and ceramic bowls are better than plastic, however, since dog dishes don’t have to be certified as food-safe the way those made for humans do, they may contain traces of lead or other chemicals.

Recycle your pet’s water

If your pets are as finicky and elitist as mine, you probably have to refresh their water pretty frequently. Rather than pouring it down the drain, use that to water your indoor or outdoor plants.

These are just some of the ways your dog, with your help, can leave a smaller carbon paw print on the planet. There are lots more ways to be environmentally conscious with your pet. There is so much useful information and great tips online – so as you pay more attention to the products you use, the alternatives to harmful ingredients, and the amount of waste that life as a dog owner produces, you may find even more ways to go green with your pet. It’s the only planet we have – so let’s be kind to it!