Squeaky Green Pets

By Chandra Orr

October 3, 2008 5 min read

SQUEAKY GREEN PETS

Cleaning properly may make a happier life for your dog or cat

Chandra Orr

Creators News Service

Everyone should have a green pet ... and we're not talking about iguanas.

From all-natural pet foods and eco-friendly bedding to organic catnip and collars made from recycled soda bottles, manufacturers are making it easier than ever to give your pets an eco-centric lifestyle.

Despite all the advancements, choosing to clean green is one of the most important steps you can take to do right by Mother Nature and your animal companions.

"Many pet owners are experiencing for themselves how natural and green living correlates with their quality of life and how good they feel day to day," said Adam Leidhecker, president of Paw Luxury (pawlux.com), an online shopping destination featuring eco-friendly, organic and all-natural dog products.

"This has lead people to think long and hard about what they put on and in their body and the implications these decisions have on the health of their four-legged friend," Leidhecker said.

It's all about making smart choices, and when it's time to tidy up, the choices you make can have a huge impact on your pet's health. Many commercially available cleansers are more toxic than the dangers they seek to destroy, and our pets may be the first to feel the effects, according to Corbett Marshall and Jim Deskevich, authors of "Eco Dog: Healthy Living for Your Pet" ($17, Chronicle Books).

"If you think about it, our dogs are at the front line in terms of exposure to cleaners," Marshall said. "They are eye-level with the traditional under-the-sink storage for those chemicals, they lick anything off the floor and they like nothing better than to take a long drink from the toilet."

Choose to clean green, and your pet will thank you.

AROUND THE HOUSE

Safeguard your pet from toxic chemicals and noxious fumes. Skip the bleach and ammonia in favor of old-fashioned homemade cleansers. A bit of baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar are all you need to keep your home fresh and sparkling without putting pets at risk, according to Marshall and Deskevich.

Use baking soda to neutralize pet odors and as a natural scouring agent. Use vinegar to cut through tough stains and clean glass without streaking. Use lemon juice to cut through grease and grime. Mix and match depending on the job at hand.

Not up for making your own cleansers? Choose biodegradable products made from all-natural, non-toxic and chlorine-free ingredients. Look for air fresheners that use natural essential oils rather than artificial fragrances -- which often leave a film or residue behind -- and skip the products made from harmful aerosols.

When it's time to clean up the yard, leave the grocery bags at the grocery store. Made from nonrenewable petroleum-based plastics, they take hundreds of years to break down in a landfill, according to Leidhecker. Instead, clean up after your pooch with a biodegradable alternative like Skooperbox ($12 for 30 boxes) or Spike Brand Business Bags ($6 for 40 bags).

AROUND THE EARS

Be just as mindful of harmful chemicals during bath time.

Conventional pet bathing products can contain toxic chemicals like parabens, sodium lauryl sulfates, cocamide DEA, cocamide MEA, TEA lauryl sulfate and propylene glycol. Such chemicals have been linked to a range of health problems in humans, from skin allergies to cancer, according to Leidhecker.

"These ingredients have the same impact on your favorite pet," he said. "Sudsing up Fido with all-natural and organic shampoos and conditioners is a huge plus. Many natural, eco-friendly bathing products are extraordinarily mild, moisturizing and hypoallergenic. The ingredients are non-toxic and safe for even the most sensitive dog."

Avoid products that contain petroleum, animal by-products, chemical detergents, synthetic fragrances, colors and preservatives. Instead, look for shampoos and conditioners made from natural, organic and biodegradable ingredients.

For a special do-it-yourself doggie spa treatment, do as Marshall and Deskevich do and whip up a batch of homemade dry shampoo. Place 1 cup bran, oatmeal or cornmeal on a cookie sheet in a warm oven for 5 minutes, then rub the grain gently into the fur with a towel. Follow up with a good brushing. The warm grain will remove dirt and grease and extend the time between traditional baths -- and your dog or cat will appreciate the suds-free touch-up.

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