We are all mindful of our own environmental footprints, but you may have over looked four very important prints that could be contributing to environmental damage. That’s right, your furry best friend has an environmental impact just like you do. Granted, their impact is probably a lot less than yours (that is unless you’ve trained your pooch to drive an 18-wheeler), but in the grand scheme of things, every little thing you can change to benefit the planet adds up in the long run.

Between napping and playing, your pet probably hasn’t found the time to contemplate the big issues of climate, but lucky for them they have you to make sure they are leading a sustainable lifestyle. Being a “green” pet owner is not much different then being a “green” person, it just requires a little forethought and you’re on your way!

1. Adopt Don’t Shop

Many people turn to pet stores when buying their first four-legged friend, but what they may not realize is that buying animals in this manner is not always humane. This video from the ASPCA explains the real cost of buying a dog in a store that will make you reconsider your decision to shop for a new friend.

Instead of shopping for a pet, turn to a local shelter or rescue squad. There are nearly three million dogs and cats put down every year because animal shelters can’t afford to house them. Not only will saving an animal make you feel amazing, but your new best friend will love you even more for your kindness! If you need anymore convincing to this point, check out this adorable post.

2. Compost Pet Waste

Together, dogs and cats produce over 10 million tons of waste a year! The majority of this waste ends up in a landfill and never decomposes because of the plastic bag or waste finds its way into sewers and can pollute drinking water.

Instead of throwing away your pet’s waste, you can build a composter in your backyard. Click here for simple instructions on how-to build your own. It is important to remember that pet waste contains harmful bacteria, so you should not use this compost on your vegetable gardens! It can be used to fertilize shrubs around your house though.

You can even try biodegradable poop bags and liter for your pets!

3. Non-Toxic Grooming

Just like people shampoo and conditioner, dog shampoo can be packed with nasty chemicals that are not good for your pet. Pets absorb these chemicals into their skin and are likely to lick them off their fur during bath time. To make sure your pet is safe from harsh chemicals, try using Dr. Brommer’s Castile Soap or one of these awesome eco-friendly alternatives.

4. Planet-Friendly Diet

Pet “junk food” is just as common as people junk food. A wholesome diet is essential to your pet’s health and the process of making junk pet food can be harmful to other animals.

“Animal by-product” is a nice way of saying leftover meat scraps, and in the worst way possible. According to this article, animals used to make pet foods are classified as “4-Ds,” meaning “dead, dying, diseased, or disable” and are not fit for human consumption. Yuck.

To make sure your pet is eating meat from sustainable sources, look for the USDA Certification on their foods. Or you could try your hand at making homemade dog food!

5.  Natural Toys

You don’t want BPA in your water bottle and you sure don’t want BPA in your dog’s mouth! Most pet toys are made from rubber or plastic that are dyed to fit a wide array of colors. For non-toxic pet play toy alternatives, check out this site or read this article on hemp toys that will surely make some tails wag.

Image source: Sgt Pete Thibodeau / Wikipedia Commons