Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrating Earth Day: Earth Friendly Products for Service Dogs

From Shiloh, Summit Assistance Dog
I try to be as environmentally conscience as I can with the supplies and gear I use and buy for Shiloh, while keeping in mind my very real budget concerns. I recently had to switch from Organix, an organic (definition of organic from the USDA) dog food made locally in my home state to a natural (the USDA does not currently have a definition for "natural products" ) dog food because Organix--much as I and Shiloh love it-- just became too expensive for the budget.   AACFO that regulates the pet food industry defines "natural" as, "For the most part, "natural" can be construed as equivalent to a lack of artificial flavors, artificial colors, or artificial preservatives in the product. As mentioned above, artificial flavors are rarely employed anyway. Artificial colors are not really necessary, except to please the pet owner's eye. If used, they must be from approved sources, the same as for human foods. Especially for high-fat dry products, some form of preservative must be used to prevent rancidity. Natural-source preservatives, such as mixed tocopherols (a source of vitamin E), can be used in place of artificial preservatives. However, they may not be as effective" (taken from AACFO/FDA page on Pet Food Labeling). 

Food is just one area one can use to reduce the carbon foot print of a service dog. The pet product market is awash with biodegradable, sustainable, recyclable, and products made of reclaimed materials and according to The American Pet Products Association Survey of Pet owners in 2008/2009 the industry expects to see a continued demand for eco-friendly pet products of all kinds.

Examples of Eco-Friendly Products for the Busy Service Dog:
  • Biodegradable waste bags
  • Collars/Leashes/ Harnesses/ Beds made from recycled or sustainable materials such as recycled plastic, rubber, polyester; hemp; or bamboo to name a few.
  • Organic or Natural food  (I hear all you Barf and Raw Diet people yelling at me to include you:))  
 * Note: I haven't linked to any specific Eco-Friendly pet products or companies because there are just too many and I do not want to offend you, my loyal readers, by leaving out your favorite company. Free free to discuss you favorites by leaving a comment on this article.

Examples of Eco- Friendly Practices for Life with Service Dog
  • Bring Reusable traveling gear in your bag such as refillable water bottles, and reusable water bowl
  • Save and/ or Trade outgrown vests/harnesses/collars. I cannot tell you how much money my friends with service dogs and I have saved by trading/loaning gear that does fit or is not being used. Not to mention we don't throw away things we otherwise might this way.
  • Use biodegradable grooming products
  • Turn the water off while soaping up your service dog in the bath
  • Take your Service Dog in the Shower with you... Really, Seriously. I've done it and I know others who do this too.
  • Turn those warn out towels and blankets into dog towels/bedding
Do you have other eco-friendly practices and tips you use in life with your service dog? Share them in the comments section!

Resources and More Information on Topics in this article:
  1. FDA Pet Food Labels - General -Updated March 2010
  2. Appendix: USDA-NOP Organic Pet Food Task Force Initial Report April 7, 2006 DRAFT GUIDANCE DOCUMENT FOR DISCUSSION ONLY Examples of Labeling Terms Allowed for Pet Food Compliant with State Regulations and Proposed Organic Regulations 
  3. American Pet Products Association Survey of Pet owners in 2008/2009

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your showing us how even our animals (and best friends) can be responsible, and we can be responsible for the earth while still taking care of them the best we can.
On my blog I share a great video by Puglet about being Green.