How green is your pet?

Allecia Vermillion

You’ve worked to reduce your impact on the environment. But what about Fido’s or Fluffy’s carbon pawprint?

Just like human products, items for pets are getting all sorts of green makeovers. From national pet store chains to independent pet-lover boutiques, your dog or cat has a wealth of eco-friendly options.

Earth-friendly cat litter

Traditional clumping cat litter poses a variety of problems for the environment. Clay used in litter is often strip mined, while the silica dust and clumping agent can be harmful to cats. Opt for a non-clumping or biodegradable version like Swheat, which is made from wheat.

Organic pet food

Like people food, pet-food manufacturers are offering a wider range of dog and cat food using more natural ingredients and production methods as well as sustainably raised meats.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture extends its organic certification to pet food. Products certified as organic must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Pet foods can also be certified as 100 percent organic if the entire ingredient list is produced or processed according to these standards. Those labeled “made with organic ingredients” must have at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

Biodegradable doggie bags

In addition to being a major neighborhood nuisance, not picking up after your dog can contribute to polluting local waterways. Stormwater carries the waste, which contains nitrogen, bacteria, parasites and other harmful organisms, through sewers and into local watersheds.

When you pick up after your pet, make an extra environmental effort with bags that are biodegradable. Find versions made of corn and other renewable products at They also sell biodegradable liners for cats’ litter boxes.

Some pet owners also swear by the Doggie Dooley, a pet-waste disposal system similar to a very small septic tank. Just bury the small container in your yard and use it as a receptacle for dog waste. A special powder helps reduce it into a liquid that absorbs safely into the ground.

Collars and leashes

Let your dog or cat make an eco-statement with a collar or leash made from all-natural fibers, like hemp, or 100 percent recycled materials. PetSmart sells a collar and leash made with sustainable bamboo and cork with all-natural dyes for $10 to $15.

Chew toys and snacks

Pet stores sell a host of naturally crafted toys and treats. Try some organic biscuits, natural rubber squeaky balls or an organic catnip mouse. You can even give your cat a big-time treat by growing your own catnip.

Pet beds

Let your faithful friend rest easy on a bed made from natural fabrics and stuffed with filling made from recycled plastic bottles or other reused materials.

Did you know? The latest survey by the American Pet Products Association found that 62 percent of all U.S. households own a pet. That’s 71.4 million homes.

Eco-life: Pet waste

One U.S. Geological Survey study based in the Kansas City, Mo., area showed that pet waste was responsible for one-quarter of bacteria in local waterways.