Whether you've recently added a new four-legged member to your family, or just want to treat your existing pet right, there are plenty of affordable products and supplies for your furry friend that will make everyone happy, including Mother Nature.
Start with the fun stuff: toys! Don't spend a fortune on plush new chew toys your dog's powerful jaws could demolish in a few days. Shop yard sales and thrift stores for used rubber dolls or balls and stuffed animals that pooch will enjoy just as much as if they were brand new. When you do buy new, choose toys like those from West Paw's Zogoflex line that are tough, pliable, non-toxic and designed to be recyclable. An added bonus: they're dishwasher safe.
- Also, check out West Paw's inexpensive Eco Bones, which are made of 85 percent re- engineered recycled IntelliLoft fibers that offer Fido a strong, squeaky and eco-friendly way to exercise his jaws while saving you money on the real bones you might otherwise buy every week.
Hemp Collars and Leashes. Hemp is a natural fiber that has been grown for the last 12,000 years in a variety of climate and soils without pesticides and herbicides. Hemp fibers are longer, stronger, more absorbent, and more mildew-resistant than cotton; they're hypoallergenic, 100 percent biodegradable, odor resistant and anti-bacterial, too.
- Earthdog offers a variety of hemp collars and leashes.
- Planet Dog's hemp collar is adjustable, and its cozy leash comes with a fleece-lined handle.
- The Good Dog Company Hemp Canvas Collars also come in a variety of colors, styles and sizes.
Eco-Friendly and Comfortable Dog Beds. Dogs sleep at least 12 hours a day if not more, so ensuring they have the best bed possible is a must (and will keep them off the couch!). Beds made from natural materials such as recycled cotton, feathers, wool or kapok fiber offer a healthy 'green' alternative to the synthetics found in many conventional pooch pads.
- West Paw Design utilizes eco-friendly materials such as reclaimed cotton,organic cotton, eco fabric and stuffing made with IntelliLoft recycled fibers, recyclable Zogoflex, and recycled fabric that can be used again and again without falling apart.
- Big Shrimpy Planet-Friendly Beds are stuffed with Smartfill, a 100 percent pre-consumer recycled polyester fiber. The zip-off bed cover and the fill can be washed and dried in your machines at home.
What if it's chow time?
Pet owners often find that organic and natural ingredients improve their animal's digestive system while keeping coats shiny and healthy. You can determine what organic food best suits your dog by taking Organic Pet Digest's Healthy Label Test. Most food coops and many grocery stores carry Newman's Own Organic Pet Food as well asother organic lines.
Of course, all this is for naught if you don't keep your home healthy. Pet are just as susceptible to indoor air pollution as people – maybe more so, since they spend so much time on the ground, where they can inhale fumes from floor cleaners and pick up dirt that's tracked in from outside. Use nontoxic cleansers on carpeting and furniture; both you and your pet will benefit.
Finally, don't despair over the two banes of any dog owner's existence: fleas, and poop. These suggestions for natural flea treatments, along with links to biodegradable poop bags, will help you make your best four-footed friend Mother Nature's friend, too. (Of course, you could do what I do, and flush my dog's doo down the toilet. Try it sometime. It's not nearly as gross as it sounds.)