December 23, 2013

Liz Swafford: Pets can be eco-friendly, too

Are you part of the 23 million American households who gave their pet a Christmas gift this year? Yep, me too.

You don’t have to dote on and treat your dog like a small child to be gracious enough to give him or her a gift. A super special treat or a new toy can go a long way in keeping your pet entertained while the family opens their gifts. Pets in general are such a huge part of our lives that they have become an integral part of the family. And, as part of the family, we want the best for them. An easy way to improve your pet’s life is to make eco-friendly choices for them year round. Here are a few tips to get you on the right path.

• Give sustainable toys and accessories: Products that are sustainable are made with materials that are renewable or from those that are manufactured from recycled products. For example, items made from bamboo are sustainable because new shoots of bamboo replace the bamboo that is harvested to make new products. Bamboo is therefore classified as renewable. Pet products that are sustainable are those made from hemp, which is typically free of herbicides or pesticides. Try to choose leashes, harnesses, collars or even pet beds made from hemp when possible.

Products made from recycled materials could include pet beds or leashes made from recycled plastic bottles. Plastic water and soda bottles labeled with the number 1 recycling are a type of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. When recycled, PET can be converted into fibers that can be used to make textiles such as fabric, and even new carpet. Look for labels on products that say PET or eco-spun and have a recycling symbol. Most sustainable options don’t cost any more than regular pet products.

• Use natural cleaning products: When buying soaps and shampoos to clean your pet, choose those without toxic chemicals. You wouldn’t want those on you, so don’t lather up your pets with them either. Read the labels and look for items with limited ingredients, and those labeled all natural, eco-friendly, green or hypoallergenic. Also, when buying cleaning products to pick up those messes pets may leave behind on the floor, choose the most natural ones you can find. You could go the do-it-yourself route and make your enzyme cleaner and scrub with natural ingredients like baking soda and lemon. A web search for “enzyme cleaner” will bring up several recipes for you to try.

• Safer ice melt: It’s still winter, and if you have a pet that likes going outdoors, keep in mind that rock salt and salt-based ice-melting products can cause health problems for pets, especially if ingested. Supervise your pet while outdoors to make sure they don’t eat the rock salt on the driveway. Also, if they step on the stuff, wash off their paws when they come back inside to avoid irritation. When shopping for ice melters, look for those that are free of salt and labeled as pet and child safe.

• Clean up the poop: For dogs, choose biodegradable doggie doo bags instead of regular plastic which can take many years to decompose. Pet waste left outdoors can be washed into storm drains where it can drift into local streams and contaminate the environment. Always take an extra minute to pick it up and dispose of it properly. If you have cats, choose kitty litter with no clay or artificial ingredients. Always look for the litter made with natural products such as corn, pine, cedar or wheat.

• Make your own: Get crafty and make your cat some fun toys with leftover scraps of fabric and yarn. Depending on what you have on hand, you won’t even need a needle and thread. If you have a green thumb you can grow your own organic catnip or cat grass indoors. Give yourself bonus points for growing the plant in a reused plastic bottle or bi-metal can.

• Choose healthy food: Did you know that some pets could suffer from food-related allergies? The most common allergens for dogs include dairy, wheat, eggs, soy and beef. When shopping for pet food, look for those labeled as having limited ingredients, no by-product meals and no artificial ingredients. If you’re able, consider making your pet food at home with healthy and organic ingredients from the grocery store. Please do your research and talk to your veterinarian before doing so.

As a responsible pet owner you need to be aware of the foods that can be toxic to your pet. The wrong foods can cause a simple upset stomach to more serious symptoms requiring urgent veterinary care. For dogs, make sure you keep them away from avocado, raw bread dough, chocolate, grapes and raisins, nuts, onions, garlic and the sweetener xylitol. Cats need to stay away from some of the same foods as dogs, including onion, garlic and related root vegetables, green tomatoes, raw potatoes, chocolate, grapes, raisins, avocado, milk, raw fish and raw eggs.

Liz Swafford is the recycling and education program coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Have a recycling question? Contact her at (706) 278-5001 or lswafford@dwswa.org.

Text Only
  • Le Miz 3 mlh.jpg Do you hear the people sing?

    Sometimes referred to as “the world’s most popular musical,” “Les Miserables,” an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1846 novel, has been performed around the globe in more than a dozen languages for nearly 30 years.

    July 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Bryan Collins: God so loved

    In John 3:16, Jesus spoke of the Father’s love of the world, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    July 11, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: Those who help also serve Christ

    If the reader wrongly believes Christ can’t use you because you’re too timid to sing, pray, speak publicly, play musical instruments in worship services inside a church sanctuary, today’s devotional will greatly encourage you.

    July 4, 2014

  • New pastor for First Presbyterian

    The Rev. William McMullen “Will” Scott, currently of Indianapolis, Ind., has been called to serve as the pastor of Dalton’s First Presbyterian Church. Scott is only the 19th senior minister to be called by the congregation in the church’s 167-year history. His nomination was approved by the congregation Sunday, June 15, following a yearlong search.

    June 16, 2014

  • Bryan Collins: Men, step up

    On Sunday, our nation will celebrate Father’s Day. The observable differences in the way Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are celebrated could be attributed to several different factors.  Mother’s Day is typically a more sentimental occasion than Father’s Day because our moms are usually a little more sentimental. Moms are typically more nurturing and so we think of them differently than we think of our dads. It is too often the case that moms have to play the role of mother and father to the children.

    June 13, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: The powerlessness in aloneness

    God knows the fragileness of every human he has created. The first time God graded something as “no good” within his new creations is when he created the first human, Adam: “It is not good for any man to abide alone” (Genesis 2:18). God then created Eve.

    June 6, 2014

  • DLT play features bluegrass gospel music, comedy

    It is October of 1945, the war is over, and the gospel-singing Sanders family is back together again.

    June 1, 2014

  • O.N. Jonas Memorial Foundation plans for future

    The yearly meeting of the O.N. Jonas Memorial Foundation was recently held and plans for the future were discussed. The foundation (administered by the Creative Arts Guild) began in 1968 with friends of the late Oscar N. Jonas uniting with business, civic and educational leaders to establish an organization that could perpetuate Oscar’s aspirations for the cultural enrichment of all children in northwest Georgia. The foundation sponsors visual, performing and literary arts in Dalton Public Schools, Whitfield County Schools and Murray County Schools, and also Crossroads, Mountainbrook and the Dalton Regional Youth Detention Center. All programs are free to students.

    June 1, 2014

  • Robin Richmond Mason: Sit down for a season but stand firmly on your roots

    Proverbs tells us that a woman can live in such a way that her children will rise up and call her blessed.

    May 10, 2014

  • The Rev. G. David Henderson: Christ-like power from devilish thorns

    Today’s devotional is to the readers who have asked God many times to rid Satan out of their life, but as of yet he hasn’t  removed him. The Apostle Paul also experienced such heartbreaking misery.

    May 2, 2014