Bringing Home Your Best Friend—Eco-friendly Edition
—by Jessica B. Turner, PhD candidate, West Virginia University
Dogs are (hu)man’s best friend, but getting one means you have to be ready for a fun, exhausting, and crazy transition…and if you’re like me, that includes keeping things earth-lovin’, too.
Having recently done the homework to prep for my own new pup—all 12 pounds of wrinkly, wobbly, under-foot, energetic love that he is—I’m pleased to share with you the quick scoop on easy green ways to welcome your new dog home.
Read on for a combination of DIY and ready-made ways to ready, set, green doggy’s homecoming, from toys to cleaning to potty-breaks.
1. Toy Time
A busy dog is a happy dog, and toys are a great way to keep your dog physically and mentally active.
DIY: If you have a teething puppy or a heat-prone older dog, take old t-shirts, rip them into strips and tie them into knots. Soak them in water and freeze for an icy chew toy.
Ready-made: For new toys, I like West Paw Designs for its sustainable approach to making pets happy. Their eco-friendly toys are handmade in the U.S., and include this adorable dino squeaky toy made from organic hemp fibers and recycled polyester.
2. Spot Cleaner for Spot
Spot cleaning is one of the fun perks of having a dog…said no one, ever. But, it’s pretty rewarding to use an cleaner that’s effective and protects your pup from the harsh chemicals found in many cleaners.
DIY: Vinegar is a cheap, clean, and awesome solution to help in a time of potty-training crisis. It’s great at lifting stains on most floors except for stone.
Recipe Card: Vinegar Spot Cleaner
- Blot the spot with an old rag to get most of the liquid up, then throw that rag into the washer for its inevitable reuse.
- Fill a spray bottle with two cups of warm water and 3/4 cup of white vinegar. Really let that spot have it with the spray, and let it sit for around five minutes.
- Cover the spot with baking soda to remove the smell, take your pup for a walk for half an hour, then come back and vacuum. Voila, an eco-friendly, cheap spot treatment.
Ready-made: If you’d rather purchase a cleaner, this green-cleaning roundup details several options you can use to keep your carpet spot-free while minimizing environmental impact.
3. Doggy Bowl
Who doesn’t love the puppy bowl at half-time of the Super Bowl? But that’s another story—your dog needs a nice sturdy bowl for chow time.
DIY: Scour a thrift store’s general kitchenware section for a cool used dog bowl, or even a few nice, right-size ceramic dishes. Going thrifty saves resources on producing new dishes, plus, for a fun project, you can make it super-personal by painting the outside with non-toxic paint.
New: If you want to buy brand-spankin’ new, shoot for a recycled dog bowl like this one.
4. To Feed the Beast Within
I don’t know about you, but picking out dog food and treats for my pup felt like a very tall order.
DIY: After much debate, my family settled on these yummy treats, which you can make using “people food” that’s eco-friendly and a-okay for your dog to eat.
Recipe card: Organic Doggy No-Bakes
- Cook a half-cup of plain organic oatmeal.
- Stir in 3/4 cup organic peanut butter and a mashed organic banana.
- Drop rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet and freeze.
- Serve frozen to your pup (or enjoy one yourself), but give them out sparingly. Dogs should eat more dog food than people food.
Ready-made: Now let’s focus on the main course. It’s complicated and depends on your pup’s breed and taste, but to get started, the Sierra Club blog recommends five brands for being eco-friendly, including: The Honest Kitchen (which was also highly recommended by the blog Dog Food Advisor) and the Brooklyn based Zoe’s Premium (the Dog Food Advisor gave this a nutritional rating of 3.5 stars out of 5.)
5. Numbers One and Two…
This is the least glamorous part on my list (the best for last, eh?). Since Everyone Poops, you have to be ready for accidents here and there.
DIY: In our little guy’s crate, we layer several old towels. These are more comfy than the throw away pee-pads, and we can easily put them in the wash if/when there’s an accident. Plus, our puppy loves to chew on anything, and a standard pee-pad would be destroyed in seconds.
Ready-made: Fact of life: You’re gonna have to pick up poop. I’ll cover the topic of biodegradable/compostable bags in the future, but in the meantime, you can start by working your way through the stash of plastic grocery bags you ended up with when you forgot your reusable totes (late-night ice cream cravings, I’m looking at you). Even though this isn’t the greenest long-term solution, it is a start. Just remember to look for holes!