Pets are a lot of work and responsibility. They need tons of love and attention and a lot of food.

The large amount of food that pets eat and the cost it takes to transport cross-country cause some environmentalists to claim that owning a pet is worse for the environment than owning an SUV. So, just like there are ways that we humans can be greener, we can adapt similar concepts to help reduce our pets’ carbon paw prints. Here are a few tips to get you started, and remember, a little goes a long way:

1. All-Natural Food

Buy all-natural, locally produced pet food or make your own. Pet food available on the mass market is made with poor-quality ingredients that aren’t good for our fur babies, and they cost a lot of money to ship.

Choosing to buy natural and organic food that doesn’t contain added hormones or chemicals is better for pets and the environment. There is a selection of all-natural pet food brands that your pets will love.

Another option is to cook your own pet food and work with your veterinarian to identify the best diet for your pet. There are a number of websites that offer simple recipes that your fur babies will love and will better nurture them.

2. Biodegradable Bags

Dispose of dog waste properly. Did you know that the 78 million dogs in the United States create an estimated 10 million tons of waste each year? This can have a major effect on the eco-system if not cleaned up.

Now think of all the plastic bags used to pick up all that waste just sitting in the landfills. Be a good neighbor and pick up after your dog using a biodegradable bag. There are a variety of them. Look for ones that are both biodegradable and compostable.

3. Eco-Friendly Goods

Buy eco-friendly products for your pet. You buy eco-friendly products for yourself. You can do the same with your four-legged friend.

There are so many pet products on the market that are eco-friendly, including toys, collars, pet beds, and the list goes on. Look for products that are durable and will last longer, so you won’t have to replace them as often.

If you’re crafty, you can always create your own pet accessories using recycled materials you have lying around. If not, the website offers affordable, handmade pet apparel and accessories.

4. Non-Toxic Repellents

Use non-toxic tick and flea repellents. Many repellents contain toxic chemicals that could be poisonous to pets and harmful to their owners.

Your best option to protect pets from pesky fleas and ticks is to look for non-toxic and pesticide-free repellants. Read labels carefully before applying any new repellants to your dogs, and if you don’t know what something is, consult with your veterinarian.

Always follow directions carefully and monitor for any side effects. To avoid flea and ticks altogether, brush your pet often and check for fleas and ticks regularly.

5. Shelter Adoption

Adopt a pet from a local shelter. Instead of going to a breeder, check out your local animal shelter first—there are plenty of dogs and cats that need good homes.

Websites like are great resources to help connect you with local shelters to find your perfect pet. Once you do get a pet, make sure to spay or neuter it. More pets running around means more food and toys to buy and more waste to clean up.

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