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You’re Green, Sure. But is Your Dog?

 

green dogs beaglesSo, chances are, if you’re reading this site, that you’re pretty green, or maybe you think you are, or at least you’re trying to be.  And, honestly, that’s more than half the battle.  And, if you think you aren’t but you want to be, that’s still more than half the battle.  But, for the sake of this article, I’m just going to assume you’re green and you’re taking care of yourself and your home in that way.  But, what I’ve seen far too often, is that the family Fido gets left out.  He still eats a mixture of who knows what (Ol’ Roy or the drugstore variety of food?).  His bowls are plastic, his bed is made from the local Petsmart variety, and his walks are sparse.

We wouldn’t eat that way, sleep that way, drink our water that way, or confine ourselves that way, would we?  Of course not!  So, then, why would we think any different for our pets?  If you’ve forgotten or it just hasn’t occurred to you, I’ve got some tips for you to ensure that your dog feels left out no longer.  If you’ve got the greenest house and kids on the block, why not add to it and have the greenest pup too?  

And, okay.  In case you’re not entirely convinced that this is a “necessary” thing to invest your time in, consider this: according to a New Scientist report in 2009, a dog’s carbon footprint is more than double that of an SUV: 

A medium-sized dog would consume 90 grams of meat and 156 grams of cereals daily in its recommended 300-gram portion of dried dog food.…That means that over the course of a year, [dog] wolfs down about 164 kilograms of meat and 95 kilograms of cereals. It takes 43.3 square metres of land to generate 1 kilogram of chicken per year – far more for beef and lamb – and 13.4 square metres to generate a kilogram of cereals. So that gives him a footprint of 0.84 hectares…Meanwhile…a 4.6-litre Toyota Land Cruiser…driven…10,000 kilometres a year, uses 55.1 gigajoules, which includes the energy required both to fuel and to build it. One hectare of land can produce approximately 135 gigajoules of energy per year, so the Land Cruiser’s eco-footprint is about 0.41 hectares – less than half that of a medium-sized dog.

 

Convinced to make some changes?  Alright!  Let’s do this the right way and start from puppy on up. 

Buying Your New Puppy

Puppies sitting in the malls generally come from puppy mills, places notorious for being overcrowded, inbreeding and reproducing without proper time in between. Diseases are much more common and because these puppies are typically so heavily dosed on antibiotics, they will often build up an antibiotic resistance that could unnecessarily cost them their life later on. But, if you're like me, you probably feel a constant, inevitable pull to "rescue" these puppies. I get it, I truly do. But, I also urge you to try and refrain. Though it seems innocent, and even like the right thing to do in many cases, it's only promoting a system that we really need to stop. Whenever you can, buy your puppy local, just like you would buy anything else.

Feeding a Green Dog

Whether you want to buy green food or make your own, honestly your options are just about limitless.  I do encourage you to toss out the garbage, corn-stuffed no-names.  Sure, they’re cheap, but they’re also taking years off your dogs life and promoting  the wrong kind of growing and farming when it comes down to it.  And that’s exactly how that carbon pawprint gets so high.  Check out raw food diets, serve your dog brown rice, veggies and some protein.  Or, if you can afford it, go for the guaranteed organic and sustainable dog foods available for purchase now. 

Supplying Green Toys

There are no excuses for plastic toys when it comes to your dog.  The options for eco-friendly and green toys are endless!  I suggest avoiding household items, even though it seems smart and seems like recycling.  Your dog won’t know the difference between a new sock and a recycled sock, so just avoid the mess from the start. West Paw is a great brand for green puppy toys.  

Limit Chemical Use

You should be or probably already are doing this, but if you aren’t, having a dog should certainly make you think twice about the chemicals you’re using in your home.  From the carpet cleaner and wood polish to your dusting spray and air fresheners, go natural for your sake and your pets.  Using vinegar solutions for cleaning is always a good idea, it cleans fantastically well and it’s safe for you both. 

Exercise Green

Sitting around inside is just as unhealthy for your dog as it is for you.  Make it a team effort and take your dog when you head out for walks to the store or just walks for the sake of walking.  Go hiking. Go swimming in a local pond.  Offer to do volunteer labor outside like picking up trash that you can do with your dog. 

Give Back

Part of going green and being eco-friendly is giving back.  See if you can take your dog to nursing homes or libraries for “Read-with-a-Dog” days.  Why stop at sharing your puppy’s love with just your family?  Spread it all ‘round!

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Freelancer Jocelyn Anne is a dedicated eco-friendly blogger.  At the moment she’s writing and promoting a portable air conditioner during the summer months as a green and economical way to replace central AC systems.