Help Your Dog Go Green at Mealtime

By Elizabeth Wasserman

Help Your Dog Go Green at Mealtime

From using biodegradable dog waste bags to replacing store-bought toys with safe, old household objects, pet lovers are demonstrating that they are environment lovers too. It’s only natural that the concern over pollution from pets would extend to chowtime.

“Being eco-conscious is not something you do for yourself and not for your pets,” says Don Reisinger, sales and marketing director for New Age Pet, maker of the ecoConcepts Pet Bowls. “If you’re going to do it right, you need to be eco-conscious right across the board.”

The Green Dog Movement
As you seek out more natural foods for yourself and continue to recycle packaging, think about doing so for your dogs. Here are tips on how to make your dog’s dinnertime more eco-friendly:

1. Look for natural ingredients.
A growing number of consumers have begun using the standard of minimally processed foods when deciding what to feed their dog. The Association of American Feed Control Officials, which regulates the pet food industry, defines natural food as “… derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources … not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.” Increasingly, pet food makers are putting ingredients in dog food that people understand are healthy, such as chicken, egg, carrots, spinach and omega-3-rich fish oil and flaxseed.

2. Recycle food packaging.
“Canned food packaging is very recyclable. It’s the greener alternative as far as ability to recycle is concerned,” says Christine Mallar, owner of Green Dog Pet Supply in Portland, Ore. Dry dog food manufacturers are often looking to create stability for ingredients and sometimes use waxy or coated paper for bags. “If there are layers, we tear off the outer layers and recycle the paper part on the outside and leave the liner to the garbage,” says Mallar.

3. Buy bowls locally made of recycled matter.
Eco-friendly food and water bowls on the market include: recycled plastics and glass; stainless steel, which is durable and doesn’t often get scratch marks where bacteria can hide; and locally made, lead-free ceramic bowls, which cut down on the use of fossil fuels used to transport the goods.

4. Serve filtered or recirculated water.
To provide your dog with good-quality water and help the environment, choose filtered tap water. It removes metals and pollutants from your water supply. Avoid bottled water, which often ends up in landfills unless it is properly recycled. Pet water fountains, which recirculate water and can entice your dog to drink more because the water tastes fresher, are another option.

5. Use recycled place mats.
Avoid mopping up the floor under the dog’s bowl by purchasing a place mat made of recycled material. “For anything you’re buying for your pets or yourself, you should consider what it is made of, where it is coming from, how long it will last and what happens with it when you’re done,” says Mallar. She sells fair-trade place mats made in Africa from Global Mamas that are batik on one side and plastic recovered from landfills on the other side.

“For too many decades,” Reisinger says, “we just bought what we wanted and did not pay attention to the environment.” With just a few simple changes, you can help to make a positive difference.

Elizabeth Wasserman, a Washington, D.C., area-based freelancer, has been writing about pets, among other topics, for more than 15 years. Her love of dogs, in particular, was handed down through the generations from her great-grandfather, Eric Knight, who wrote the book Lassie Come Home in the 1930s.

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Posted on March 11, 2012

Rania says: Hi Shoba, i read your columns aoslmt every weekend, but somehow missed this one. Fortunately for me, a mutual acquaintance put it up on Facebook and I found my way to your post. I'm glad I did too! I am not much of a dog-lover. And yet, I was so moved after reading your piece that I actually contemplated giving in to my son's demand of getting a dog for him. I lost a beloved member of the family to cancer two years ago and went through similar emotions Really sorry that you lost someone you loved so much. You never get over this, you know. You just learn to build a life around their absence. Hope you and your family manage to do that soon

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