Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from Pupcycled

From right: Jake, Sophie, and Charlie

From our family to yours we wish you a very Merry Christmas and GREEN New Year!


My dog nephews with their upcycled scarves!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Charity Christmas Gift Ideas for Eco-friendly Dog Owners

Several years ago my son had a teacher that requested that instead of the typical teacher Christmas gifts, all the kids bring her gifts that she could donate to the local Humane Society. The kids were excited to wrap dog toys, cat food, and other goodies and the teacher was happy to help animals in her community. it was truly a win-win for everyone! More and more people I know are asking for Charity type gifts and you can save a lot of green this Christmas by saving money and the Earth by giving a charity Christmas gift. For eco-friendly dog owners (and pet lovers in general), consider the following charity related Christmas gifts:
  • Make a donation in their honor to a local Humane Society or Pet Rescue Group.
  • For the a pet owner that is also a Veteran, consider a donation to Pets for Vets.
  • Donations to Pilots and Paws can help pets all across the country and the donations are tax-deductible. Consider an little gift basket with a plane theme (maybe homemade plane-shaped dog treats) for Christmas with a card that says a donation has been made on their behalf.
  • Through Heifer International you can provide a needy family with an animal, so this charity gift is great for someone that has a passion for all lives, both humans and animals.
  • Buy an eco-friendly dog collar from Wagging Green. Not only are their products Earth friendly, but they also donate 5% of their profits to green charities!
  • For dog lovers that live in cold climates, consider a dog coat or scarf from Big Bad Wolf. They are a certified B corporation and part of Green America, so when you buy a product from them you know the effect that product has on the Earth has been evaluated and considered from start to finish and beyond.
This is just a short list to get you started. I would love comments below with more eco-friendly charity gift ideas!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Preparing for the National Dog Show in Philadelphia

I am excited to announce that I will be attending this year's National Dog Show held in Philadelphia, PA on behalf of Purina's Petcentric site. I currently write both inspirational and pet knowledge articles for Petcentric and was offered to cover the show several months ago. The show takes place on November 16th and 17th but is not shown on television until Thanksgiving Day. Since I have only ever owned one pure bred dog in my entire life, I am looking forward to the show and all the various breeds that will be represented. I also look forward to talking to pet trainers, owners, and lovers about eco-friendly products they enjoy. My dogs have really loved the various eco-friendly balls I have purchased throughout the year, but I am interested in the toys and treats that "real" trainers use and if eco-friendly is a concern to the majority of the trainers out there. In addition to writing an article or two for Petcentric, I plan to have some "after the event" blog posts featuring some trainers and dog owners and the products they love, similar to the Featured Fridays I did over the summer.

These posts will lead nicely into my top ten eco-friendly dog gifts for 2013, which will be revealed prior to Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping! In the meantime, if you have started your Christmas shopping and are looking for "green" gifts for your dog or another dog owner, check out Bambeco. Bambeco is a new online store I have found that has a nice variety of eco-friendly dog toys. Be sure to check out my LINKS page for more online stores.

For more information about the National Dog Show, visit The Kennel Club of Philadelphia Information Page. Please post if you happen to be attending the show, since I would love to meet you! You can also contact me by e-mail at chrissieklinger@yahoo.com.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Eco-Friendly Halloween with Your Dog

Halloween with your dog can be exciting and scary at the same time. The scary part is all the candy and chocolate that your dog may accidentally get into, but the exciting part is dressing up your four-legged friend. Unfortunately, so many dog costumes are made of synthetic materials that are bad for the environment from the point they are created all the way to when they are disposed. Finding an eco-friendly Halloween costume for your dog can be a bit "tricky" but it would be a nice "treat" for the Earth. Here are some eco-friendly costume ideas to consider for your dog:

1. Buy used material or costumes and reuse or upcycle is one way to reduce your dog's carbon pawprint. Consider shopping your local thrift store, ebay, or Craigslist for used dog costumes or parts to a costume. A Halloween tie or fabric can be turned into a bow tie collar attachment or you might even find materials that can create a Chia pet costume like the one featured on helablog!

2. Make your own costume! If you are good at sewing, you can buy eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, hemp or even newer fabrics made from recycled water bottles, and with the right pattern, you can have a great green costume...think Barkenstein maybe????

3. Recycle cardboard and other materials. One year, I created a flower costume for my dog using cardboard, paint and an old cotton t-shirt. I was able to recycle and compost all the materials after Halloween.

For more costume ideas, check out the pupcycled Pinterest board...I will be pinning ideas all month long!

After you get your dog's eco-friendly costume picked out, be sure to make some homemade dog treats and dog toys to give out during trick-or-treat. Here is my favorite recipe; it can be rolled out and you can use pumpkin or bat cookie cutters to make it a treat worth howling about! For Halloween dog toys, get funky Halloween socks/stockings and put a tennis ball in the end and then tie a knot. You can also do this with white tube socks and put a ghost face on it with a black marker.

My dog nephew Biggie dressed as a bumblebee.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Helping Your Dog Adjust to a New Schedule

A few months ago I adopted Jake, my collie/lab mix, and at the time I was working part time. Then summer came and the kids were home during the day and all of our dogs got a lot of free time to run around and play. Unfortunately, we are now getting ready to head back to school and it is soccer season AND I just accepted a full-time teaching position. My dogs will now be spending more time contained in my laundry room. So, what are some ways we help our dogs adjust to the new schedule?

For starters, I get them and make them new eco-friendly toys to play with. It keeps them busy while we are gone and they get pretty excited about trying to destroy new things. I also get them a rawhide to chew on on days we work and have soccer at night. All natural rawhides are eco-friendly and highly recommended by many vets. I do limit my dogs to one a week, and as the new schedule becomes more of a routine, they see rawhides maybe once a month.

As for playing and taking walks, I have never stuck to a set schedule with this because I knew if I started walking my dog at the same time every day, it would have to happen EVERY DAY. I live on 5 acres, so my dogs have plenty of space to run around every day, but they still like to go for walks a few times a week. Since I have never had a set schedule with walks, I use the word WALK and get the lease and my sneakers as a signal that we are going for a walk together. They all get excited, run around in circles, and then wait patiently at the door.

I think using words my dogs know and keeping their feeding times consistent helps them adjust to new schedules fairly easily. However, once we all settle into this new routine, daylight savings time will happen and throw them off a little again. The important thing is to always make time in your busy schedule to play with your dog and spend quality one on one time with each dog in your house. If your schedule gets to the point that you are unable to do that, consider sending your dog to a doggie playgroup or daycare while you work, or get a pet sitter to come once a day for a little while to give your dog attention while you are not there. If you don't help your dog adjust to new schedules and routines, they may start exhibiting behavior problems that could be hard to break.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Featured Fridays-AiKiou

Today's featured products are interactive pet feeders made by Aikou (pronounced IQ). Veterinarian technician, Kathleen Desrosiers, created the feeders after adopting a Labrador Retriever who was getting bored at home. Not only did the interactive feeder keep him busy, it also helped with food digestion. The husband/wife duo decided to debut it to the mass market in 2009. In 2011, another family member invented the Stimulo, which has gone on to win awards and be featured in commercials.

The Canadian-based company started taking steps to be more eco-friendly in 2012. They had to redesign all of the products, and although it was a nightmare, it actually became fun for the owners to really examine every part of the product design, manufacturing, and delivery. They lowered the amount of plastic used in their products and reduced the size to save fuel when delivering the products. The packaging was also changed to a more eco-friendly material and the use of paint was eliminated. Not only did the elimination of paint help the environment, it is also healthier for the pets that use the products. Much of the feeder is also recyclable plastic, so all their hard work and effort has earned them a spotlight here on Pupcycled!

For more information about Aikou's interactive pet feeders and where to buy them, visit their website.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Featured Fridays- Planet Dog Foundation

This week I am doing things a little differently with Featured Friday. I am focusing on a Foundation versus a specific product, and for a good reason. The Planet Dog Foundation recently hit a milestone worth recognizing, it has given away a million dollars!!!!Since 2006, PDF, has been giving away cash grants to various non-profit organizations that help support dogs that are helping people. From seeing eye dogs, to medical alert dogs, to PTSD therapy dogs, PDF is helping make a difference in the lives of dogs and people. The foundation hopes to continue to give away more and more cash grants every grant season.
The Planet Dog Foundation has many products and one product in particular, the glow for good ball, helped increase grant funds. Even during hard economic times, the foundation continues to grow and help more and more people. On top of helping people, PDF, is helping the environment as well. They have leashes made from hemp and 100% cotton dog toys. Their products are eco-friendly and at least 2% of the sales go back to the Foundation to be given as cash grants. Check out the video to see more of their products in action. You can find many of their products for sale on Amazon, including their completely recyclable Glow Ball.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Featured Fridays- U-Turn Handles

Paul using the U-Turn Handle
When trying to live a greener lifestyle, many pet owners look to better food options for their dogs. While well-balanced nutrition is very important, exercise is equally important in helping your dog stay strong and healthy. However, if you have more than one dog to walk, getting out and exercising can be difficult at times. That is where U-Turn Handles comes in. It allows you to walk three to four dogs at once, with on one person!

This new product was launched in February of 2013 and is currently available to order directly from the UTurn Handle website. The handle is manufactured in the United States and is made of HDPE which is non-toxic, recyclable, and approved by the FDAto be used for food processing. The owner, Paul, is also working to get future packaging materials from a local recycling outfit in Seattle. Below is a video of the U-turn handle in action.

Paul, a retired Boeing Engineer, invented the handle to help other dog owners, like himself, walk several dogs at once and maintain a happier and healthier lifestyle. If you have multiple dogs and want to be more active with your dogs, getting a U-Turn Handle may be the place to start. If you are still not sure if the U-Turn Handle is right for you or your dog, OR you have more than four dogs to walk, check out the great FAQ section at www.uturnhandles.com!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Featured Fridays- The Fifth Paw

Used By Permission from The Fifth Paw
Anyone that takes their dog on a walk knows how annoying it can be to deal other things you need to carry, like car keys, poop bags, and treats. That is where The Fifth Paw comes in! Owner, Stephen Longo, created the device to help keep these items attached and untangled on your dog's leash. 
The product is made in the USA and can be ordered on Amazon or found at local pet stores. It works with almost any leash out there.

Here is what Stephen had to say about his product:
"Walking the dog can be a really great bonding experience. Exploring the neighborhood with my Great Dane Caesar, (and later Chloe), I met lots of great people and had loads of time to think as my dogs enjoyed themselves. What I realized from walking them everyday, sometimes twice a day, was the one thing I hated most about dog walking. It's not picking up after them, it's carrying it around till we got home, juggling it from hand to hand whenever I needed to swap hands on the leash. Not only was it a drag, but also made for unsafe walks due to not being in total control of the leash. With all the distractions out there like traffic, strange dogs, rabbits, squirrels  all tempting our dogs to yank on the leash it becomes all the more vital to be in control of the leash. Now add cell phones and winter gloves to the mix. Stuffing a full bag of poop in my pocket or some pouch wasn't the solution, (too many trips to the laundromat). One day, while walking Caesar, it just clicked in my mind. So I created The Fifth Paw to be a streamlined, clean, easy to use solution to this common problem facing dog walkers. It holds multiple bags, stays clean and tangle free and can hold bag dispensers, a bag of treats & even your house keys if you're out for a jog."

After learning more about the The Fifth Paw, I can agree it is eco-friendly for a few reasons. First, it will last for a long time and through a variety of dogs and leashes. Second, you can use biodegradable poop bags or washable reusable poop bags with it, which allows you to dispose of the dog poop in eco-friendly ways when you get home. Finally, it works well with a variety of leashes so it can be paired up with an eco-friendly dog leash. Check out the video below to see how The Fifth Paw works.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Featured Fridays- Hanks Dog Stuff

 Lesley Hardan didn't like seeing hikers leave plastic bags filled with dog poop along hiking trails, but as a dog owner herself, she knew how annoying it was to hike and walk with a plastic bag full of poop, so she invented the one of a kind 'Poop Transporter'. 
Lesley recently launched her company, Hanks Dog Stuff, and her first product (the poop transporter) is eco-friendly in many ways. It helps people pick-up after their pets, and dispose of it properly, because it is very simple to use, and you won't touch, see, or smell the poop. The product is designed to last for your dog's lifetime which means it won't be going to a landfill anytime soon!

Here's how it works:
1.  Push toggle which springs open top of bag.
2.  Drop in plastic bag full of poop.
3.  Cinch up tight and off you go.
4.  When you are ready to dump out contents - simply grab the handle on the bottom of the bag, push the toggle again and dump!

Lesley is also passionate about making her product in the United States. It was created in Palo Alto, California and is made in a small sew shop in San Francisco. Interestingly, Palo Alto and San Francisco are both very dog friendly.  Many restaurants offer outdoor seating with your dog, dog treats, and water. Both areas also have many pet-friendly hotels.

Lesley's dog, Hank, is a large yellow lab that weighs about 110 pounds. She got him when he was 8 weeks old and he has been going to work with her, (at her other job),  every day for 9 years.  He follows her everywhere and he can sneeze on command; so he's a pretty awesome companion!

When talking about her company and products, Lesley said, "I am creating one product at a time, based on my life and travels with Hank.  They are simple solutions to everyday issues all dog owners have. Love your dog, love your planet!"

Here at Pupcycled.....we totally agree that loving your pet and loving the planet can go hand in hand. For more information about the poop transporter (or other new products), visit hanksdogstuff.com.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Homemade Dog Leash Made from Old T-shirt

Homemade dog leash made from 1 t-shirt and an old hook/clip

With just one old t-shirt, a clip from a worn out leash, and a tiny (and I mean tiny) bit of sewing, you can make a homemade dog leash in less than an hour.


  • Old t-shirt (adult small or larger)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Snap clip from old leash (or can buy at many hardware stores)
  • Needle and thread
  • Fabric glue (optional)

  Step-by-Step Directions and Video for Homemade Dog Leash:

  1. Cut the bottom hem off of the t-shirt and cut the arm and neck part off as well.
  2. Cut down the side of the t-shirt to create a rectangular piece of cotton that can be laid flat.
  3. Cut a 1 inch strip, but just before you reach the end STOP!
  4. Now go over an inch and start cutting the other direction and again STOP before you get to the end.
  5. Keep doing this so that you eventually have one long strip of fabric instead of several strips.
  6. Take the really long strip, (which used to be the rectangle of cotton), and cut it into three about equal strips.
  7. Feed the end of each strip through the clip hook and run the clip to the middle of each strip so that you now have six strips.
  8. Take each strip and pair with another to form three strips that are wrapped over the clip.
  9. Start braiding the doubled-up strips.
  10. Once you have braided and run out of material, stitch the ends to keep it together. Cut off any excess material.
  11. Take the end and bring it down to create a handle.
  12. Hand sew the handle together with the lease.
  13. Take a piece of fabric from the arm of the t-shirt to create a cover for where you stitched the handle together. 
  14. You can use fabric glue to put the cover piece on or hand sew it. Just make sure the handle is hand sewn well, and tightly, before putting the cover on.
  15. You now have a homemade dog leash that is machine washable, can be composted when it wears out and if you use an aluminum clip....that part can be recycled!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Featured Fridays-TopDogDinners

Winston and Bruno-Used by permission of Peter Pfisterer
Some companies are created from a bright idea or by mistake, in the case of TopDogDinners, it was a tragedy that led Peter Pfisterer to start his business of all-natural customized dog dinners. When his boxer, Bruno, died from poisoned dog food, Peter didn't want any other dog owner to feel the horrible loss that he did. In 2012, TopDogDinners launched and started delivering fresh, customized dog dinners, three times a week, to dogs all over New York City. Together Peter and his English Bulldog, Winston, continue to educate others about the loss of their buddy Bruno, and the possible dangers of feeding your dog traditional bagged food.

With traditional dog food recalls happening every week, Peter says that his customers love not being fearful about what they are feeding their dog. They also report improved energy levels, more beautiful coat, and even better breath. Every dinner is specifically customized to a dog and their individual needs using 25-30 natural ingredients. Although TopDogDinners is a green company in some ways, it is still looking to reduce its carbon pawprint a little more each year. Peter would eventually like to see all his delivery vehicles be eco-friendly and is taking little steps, as his company grows, to reduce his environmental impact.

Peter feels blessed to have a job that he enjoys and one that helps other people and their pets. He noted that, "Every dog is different, so the required food is different…and yes, my food is pricey but less expensive than our own food. It gets less expensive if you take into the consideration the cost of vets visits that so called "food" in the bag or the can will result in. Besides …do you really put the price on your friend’s life or health?!I DO NOT! NOT ANY MORE!"

If you live in the NYC area, you can check out TopDogDinners website to order a customized meal for your dog. If you live in another large city, feel free to contact Peter Pfisterer about possible franchise opportunities; he has hopes to expand into 15 major cities in the future!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Featured Fridays- Sophie's Fancy Pet Apparel

This week we are featuring someone who 'upcycles' various things to make dog collars and other accessories. Sophie's Fancy Pet Apparel is owned and operated by Stacey Le Jeune. After adopting a Jack Russell Terrier last year, Stacey wanted to have unique collars and outfits to put on her dog, Cricket. When she couldn't find anything she liked at the store, she used an old tie to make a one of a kind collar for Cricket. Since then, Stacey has had to get a new sewing machine and start turning her hobby into a business, because everyone loves the unique collars and accessories that she has made for Cricket. Her unique and truly upcycled creations can be found on her blog and Facebook page. Below is a little bit about Stacey and her business in her own words:
"I think it important to reuse things we already have. The stuff I made for Cricket was from stuff I already had. I approached local thrift stores and they eagerly donated stuff to me. I use bookbags, ties and belts to make things like collars and also a doggy backpack. (I make some of the best collars from the ugliest ties). I have even made collars from old sweaters and doggy sweaters from sweaters too. I think we waste so much stuff in our lives -we think it all has to be new. Well, what can you make out of something old? I even reuse the clips from old bookbags as the clips for my collars   
I made a backpack for dogs in memory of my old dog Angus who died at Christmas. He was a three legged dog who was aggressive towards other dogs. We learned from Ceasar's Show 'The Dog Whisperer' that a back pack helped with aggression. We put one on Angus and he was a totally different dog. He was so proud!!!! I made a pack from a donated damaged bag, for dogs, in memory of him. 
All my items are unique and one of a kind and 10% of profits at the end of the year go to the Labrador Rescue of Nova Scotia.

Be Sure to LIKE her Facebook page and share it with other dog lovers! You can contact Stacey through the Facebook page if you are interested in purchasing one of her unique products OR if you have items to donate to be upcycled into beautiful pet apparel.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Featured Fridays- Cycle Dog

I've decided to start featuring a new eco-friendly company or product every Friday. These weekly post will be called "Featured Fridays" and if you know of an environmentally friendly company or product that should be featured, send me an e-mail or message me through social media.

Photo of Lanette Fidrych and her dogs- Provided by Cycle Dog
and used by permission 
For the very first Featured Friday, I have chosen the company, Cycle Dog, and their unique dog collars that are made from old bike tubes. I found them by accident one day while surfing the web and contacted them to see if I could interview the founder, Lanette Fidrych. Lanette is truly passionate about the environment, and when she started collecting old bike tubes in her basement, to avoid sending them off the the landfill, she had no idea that one day she would be running a successful business with those old tubes. 

Today, her company, Cycle Dog, creates a variety of eco-friendly products and continues to lead the pack when it comes to running a green company. Check out the complete interview to learn more about Cycle Dog and their eco-friendly pet products! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Natural Ways to Clean Your Dog's Ears

Fortunately, none of my current dogs have had any ear issues and I haven't had to think about cleaning their ears much. Occasionally, I take a damp washcloth and swipe their ears but I haven't had to do any hardcore ear cleaning in a long time. I know other dog owners aren't as lucky! Some breeds are more prone to ear problems than others and other dogs develop ear problems just in the summer months due to increased water play. My recently deceased chocolate lab Scooby loved playing in the water when he was young and at times did develop ear problems. I fortunately had a veterinarian that was willing to show me the proper way to clean my dog's ears and how to know when to bring him to the vet and when to deal with it myself.....if there were only more vets like that! Obviously, if your dog has an actual infection, you will need to treat it with antibiotics from your veterinarian, but if you are just looking for simple everyday ways to clean your dog's ears and keep him from developing an infection, here are some tips and resources.

Over at the Daily Puppy, they have a wonderful step-by-step guide on how to clean dog's ears with vinegar and water. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully!!!! OR visit the ASPCA website to watch a video on cleaning your dog's ears AND use their warning signs list to help you decide if your dog needs to see a vet. I also recommend talking to your vet about natural ways to clean your dog's ears, the method you plan to use, and how often you plan to inspect and clean your dog's ears. All dogs are different, and when it comes to ear cleaning, there is not a one size fits all, so talk to your vet before trying anything at home.

In my personal experience, all my current dogs have floppy ears and no hair that grows in them, so I inspect them regularly and usually only need to swipe with a washcloth. My in-laws however have a small dog that has to have her ear hair trimmed regularly, and they have to watch her ears more closely for possible ear infections. I have learned to NEVER use cotton swabs or go down into the dog's ear with anything! You should only ever clean the outer part of the ear and if you think there is something inside the ear, see a veterinarian. Personally, I would just be honest with your vet that you want to use natural ways to clean your dog's ears, and if they won't help you determine the best natural ways to clean your dog's ears, find a new trustworthy vet that will!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Best Eco-friendly Dog Crates

Green, eco-friendly, earth friendly, environmentally friendly; all terms I look for when I buy things. So, let's be honest instead of using these terms to truly help the consumer make informed buying decisions, companies are starting to find ways to use these terms and MISLEAD the consumer. My favorite thing to see, is when they have reusable shopping bags selling at grocery stores, and the bag is made from nylon that takes 30-40 years to decompose (when the bag does finally have to be disposed of), which according to Ocean Conservatory, that is longer than it takes a plastic bag to decompose. Now, I am not saying grab the plastic bag instead, what I am saying is just because something is reusable doesn't mean it is really earth friendly.

When people first starting pushing the idea of taking care of the Earth, the says 'reduce, reuse, and recycle' were thrown around everywhere. The truth is you need to be doing all three of those things and then some to truly be making a difference in helping the Earth be destroyed at a slower rate.So, when it comes to reusing things, great do it, but it all really starts with when you buy something. When you start searching online and see 'earth-friendly', just how friendly is it? How GREEN was the manufacturing?

  • How long will the materials take to decompose? 
  • How much pollution was caused to make the materials? 
  • How quickly and safely can those materials be reproduced in the environment?
  • How are the workers treated? (Humans are part of the Earth, too)!

So now onto my real point of this blog post, how do you find the best eco-friendly dog crate you can spend your hard earned money on?  I have a metal one that I have had for years. It was purchased back when green and eco-friendly were not marketing tools or even information a manufacturer shared with the consumer. It is metal, not even sure what metals are in it; I am guessing some iron since it has some rusting going on. I have no idea what type of paint was used on the metal, and it had a plastic tray at the bottom, (which over time, my dog destroyed and had been decomposing in a landfill for over six years....only 30 more to go maybe???). If at some point I do decide to replace it, or have to replace it, there are a lot of options out there that are environmentally friendly, but when you start searching you get some misleading products as well. I'm sorry, but a crate made in China from recycled plastic does not make my cut for being environmentally friendly! The mistreatment of factory workers, the extreme pollution to recycle and remix the plastic and the pollution to ship the whole thing, and I could go on, but I won't. I would much rather buy a homemade wooden dog crate from a local guy. Even then I would still wonder what wood he used and what paint or stain was on it, but still a much better chance that dog crate is actually eco-friendly!
So, if you are looking for an earth friendly dog crate or other items, I suggest starting with finding out what materials are being used to make the crate. At inhabitat.com, there was a great article about which materials, (wood, plastic, or metal) are best/greenest for human furniture, and those same rules can apply to dog furniture.

All in all, when I look at all the dog crate options out there, I think wood is the winner, (but be cautious for wood composite or veneer). The only down side I can see to this option is a chewing puppy eating his way out of it. However, given the proper training, toys, and limited time in the crate....wood is how I would go, if I had it to do over again. Hunt Ridge Ranch, offers some beautiful wood crate options and so did mywooddogcrate.net. However, there were plenty of misleading products out there when I searched for "eco-friendly dog crate" on the Internet. Be a good green consumer and do your research before you buy. Check out the company, the materials and the OVERALL impact of product you are considering. 
You always have the option of making one yourself. Upcycle old wood or wooden furniture into a dog crate that is perfect for your furry friend. I have also seen people use old pallets and wooden crates to make raised dog bowl holders and dog beds.....all great alternatives to the plastic ones!

And to be quite honest, when my old metal dog crate does need to be replaced, I will definitely be looking for ways to upcycle it into something else, and you can bet that project will be on my Pupcycled Pinterest board!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How to Find a Good Dog Sitter While You Are on Vacation

Preparing for vacation can be stressful, and as someone who strive to be eco-conscious in all aspects of their life, I can say packing for a week at a beach house has not been easy. I am taking my own homemade sauces, mixtures, homemade laundry detergent; and then there are the reusable cups and picnic plates, and the list just goes on and on. After I get all my stuff packed, I have to get the dogs ready for a week without us, which means finding someone to dog sit. We travel a quite a bit, so finding someone to come to our home and keep our dogs in their natural habitat is important to me. Here are some things I look for when finding a friend or service to take care of my furry babies.
  • Does the person like dogs or own dogs?
  • Can the person meet with my pets for a little before I leave?
  • Will the person be staying at my house all week or just coming a few times a day?
  • If coming and going-How close does the person live to my house and how often will they be checking on them?
  • Is the person willing to keep me updated on how things are going throughout the week?
  • How will the person get in and out of my house?
Here are some important things to tell your pet sitter before you leave for vacation:
  1. The times your dog eats, the amount to feed him, and where the food is stored.
  2. Your veterinarian information.
  3. Directions on giving any medications or supplements.
  4. How often your dog can have treats and where the treats are located.
  5. The basic commands your dog knows and how to use them. For example, 'out' means to go outside, 'in' when crating him, etc...
  6. Phone numbers you can be reached at and hotel information for where you will be staying.
  7. How to turn on and off inside and outside lights.
  8. Where the clean up supplies are located and where to put garbage during the week. (Accidents are always a possibility). 
Now comes the fun part...keeping up the GREEN routine. Here are some things that I do and expect my pet sitter to do to keep my dogs' carbon pawprints reduced:
  • Use the natural cleaning supplies I leave for cleaning up. I leave baking soda, vinegar and rags.
  • Only feed my dogs the food and treats that I leave for them. I make homemade treats or have carrot sticks for them as treats.
  • Deal with their waste properly. We live on five acres of land, so my dogs go in the yard and it stays there, but some people may have to have their dogs walked and should leave eco-friendly disposal bags or clear directions on how to dispose of or bury the waste.
  • Apply all natural flea repellent, if needed. I soak their collars in lemon juice and spray their bedding and fur with lemon juice to repel fleas. If the fleas are bad outside, then I might have the sitter do this once during the week. I do bathe my dogs before I leave and as soon as I return, so I have never come home to a flea infestation.
What other things do you do to prepare your dog sitter and dog? Leave comments below!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How Much Water Does Your Dog Really Need?

How often does my dog need fresh water?
As the weather warms up and more and more people get outside with their dogs, it is important to make sure you and your dog stay properly hydrated. Most dogs will naturally drink the proper amount of water, but it is possible for dogs to get dehydrated and even over hydrated. While at home, check your dog's water bowl every hour during the day and fill will cold water as needed. If you are traveling or even going on a walk, it is  important to have water with you for your dog and a way for your dog to drink that water. There are many eco-friendly drinking devices on the market, from reusable water bowls that fold up to reusable water bottles that have a flip out bowl. I have a reusable water bowl that has a clip which allows me to attach it to my little backpack I wear when we walk. I put cold water in the backpack and every mile or so, I stop and pour some water into the reusable bowl for my dog. If my dog seems to be panting tto much, I will shorten the walk and increase the water stops. 
How much water does your dog really need on a hot day? 
The size and activity level of the dog will determine how much water is needed, but most dogs will drink about an ounce of water for each pound of body weight. If you have multiple dogs drinking from the same water bowl, like I do, it can be difficult to monitor how much water they are drinking. Once you have an idea of how much water your dog is drinking on their own, you can determine if they need to be drinking more or less and adjust as needed. This is especially important for puppies, since under-drinking can be a sign of Parvo, a dangerous virus that can lead to severe illness or death. 
Is all water safe for my dog to drink?
What kind of water you give your dog is also important. If you have a well, it is important to get the water tested on a regular basis to make sure it is free of harmful bacteria. Many homeowners buy spring water to drink and serve their dogs water from the tap, but never have the water tested and monitored. This could lead to illness in your dog. Another thing that well water users need to keep in mind is how they are cleaning their well. Some people use UV lights to kill bacteria and others use bleach. If you bleach your well, be sure not to serve water from the tap to your pet for a few days. If you have public water, you should also make sure it is healthy for your dog to drink and be aware of any warnings that are issued by your local water authority. If you allow your dog to drink water while out and about, from a stream, lake or other fresh water source, it is best to limit how much they drink from those sources and do your research on how well the water is monitored. We have a lake near our home that has had many problems, so we are very careful not to let our dogs drink that water when we go there. As an eco-friendly dog owner it is important to investigate the water sources in your area and determine which ones are safest for your dog. You can do this my contacting your local water authority, state park service, or other water-related resources

Knowing how much water your dog needs and what kind of water he is drinking, can lead to a healthier and longer life for your dog. Please check out my links tab to eco-friendly stores/sites, to find environmentally safe drinking bowls and travel bowls for your dog. For more guidance on how to determine if your dog drinks too much or too little water, check out Dogster

Friday, May 17, 2013

Eco-friendly Dog Shampoo

Early on in my journey to become a more eco-friendly dog owner, I stopped buying commercial dog shampoo, flea and tick products, dog treats, and dog toys. These four items are common weekly or monthly purchases for dog owners and not only can the packaging that these things come in be harmful to the environment, but so can the stuff inside. In previous blog posts I have shared natural ways to deal with fleas, ways to make homemade toys and treats and now today I will share how to switch over to eco-friendly dog shampoo. If you can master these four areas of your dog's daily life, you are well on your way to being totally PUPCYCLED!

Eco-friendly Dog Shampoo Options:
  1. Buy commercially made eco-friendly dog shampoo- Here's the problem with this option.....LABELS ARE MISLEADING! Take a peak at the ingredient list for Hartz's flea and tick shampoo. Obviously this is loaded with dangerous chemicals and can severely pollute water systems, but what is most shocking is that they list two ingredients and then it says "other ingredients 99.7%"  Never really says what those other ingredients are and most people probably don't even read the entire label. It is actually quite scary to me that this product is even sold in stores and these mystery ingredients are going into our soil and water. Now on the plus side I did find a shampoo at Earthbath.com that might be a possible option. It does lists its ingredients....all of its ingredients! They are natural and safe, even for the soil and water supply.
  2. Make your own dog shampoo- I used to make my own oatmeal shampoo for my chocolate lab as he got older because he skin was so sensitive. However, due to living in a rural area and having to deal with fleas and ticks, I have been looking for better options for my current dogs that do not have sensitive skin. Granted, I probably created the sensitive skin on my chocolate lab after 12+ years of stupidly using Hartz and other commercial products. For my current dogs I was using diluted Dawn dish liquid to bathe them and then rinsing with cider vinegar. However, after doing some more research on Dawn, I realized it wasn't the best option either. I am now switching over to liquid Citrus Castile  Soap.
How to use Homemade Dog Shampoo
  1. I highly recommend only making small portions and using them up within a week. Storing homemade dog shampoos can lead to possibly harming your dog.
  2. For a medium-sized dog mix about 1 tablespoon  of Castile soap with 1 cup of water. Adjust for smaller or larger dogs.
  3. Get your dog's coat wet and then slowly pour the soapy mixture over the coat and rub into the coat. Add more water if needed to help spread the soap around.
  4. Rinse the dog well and then pour 2 cups of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar all over their fur.
  5. Pat dry or rinse again and pat dry. ( The vinegar smell will eventually go away on its own).
The citrus Castile or Lavender Castile soaps have essential oils added to help make your dog smell nice and repel fleas. Do not use any other types of oils (especially tea tree oil), since they can be harmful to dogs. The vinegar gets rid of odor and is a natural antibacterial agent. 

If your dog seems to have a reaction to this mixture, try the oatmeal shampoo to soothe their skin and then try just the soap without the vinegar rinse.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Eco-friendly Ways to Dispose of Dog Poop

All dog's poop and whether that poop is all over your yard or landing along the course of your nightly walk, dog owners need an eco-friendly option when it comes to disposing of that poop. I read an article about putting dog poop in the trash and was alarmed by the number of bags that end up in landfills and how some dog bags are deceptively labeled to seem eco-friendly. Putting dog poop in garbage bags or cans is really not eco-friendly at all. BUT, until they invent a doggie toilet system, there are some ways you can dispose of your dog's poop in a more environmentally friendly way.

  1. Bury It: If you live in a rural area, you can find a spot in your yard to bury the poop or add it to a compost pile. it will release nutrients back into the soil. You should use reusable buckets to collect all the poop and then bury it deep in a designated spot on your property. You can still use this method after taking walks, if you are willing to clean a reusable container to collect and transfer the poop.
  2. Flush It: If you live in the city, flushing it down the toilet it the best way to go. Again you may need to be willing to collect it in a reusable poop container while on a walk, but this method is very eco-friendly. This method can also be used if you live in a rural area and do not want to bury the poop. According to many environmental experts, this is the most earth-friendly and sanitary way to safely dispose of dog waste.
If you have a few dogs and are serious about dealing with dog waste in an eco-friendly manner, consider getting a Doggy Dooley System. The full kit even comes with a pooper-scooper. All you do is scoop poop from your yard and put it in the system. Add some water and that's about it!

As for gathering poop while on a walk. Why not consider using old tube socks to pick up dog poop? You can grab the poop, flip the sock and even tie it off. When you get home flip the poop back out and hose into the Dooley system or into your toilet or compost pile. You can use a plastic bag to put the sock in and use the bag over and over again and just wash the sock and use again.

Environmentally Friendly Flea Control

In many areas of the United States, flea season has been moving into full swing. When it comes to environmentally friendly flea control, prevention is the best place to start. Fleas can be prevented by making and using a homemade flea collar with lemon juice and spraying your dog's fur with lemon juice. Fleas hate citrus!

Another method that many eco-friendly dog owners use to combat fleas is to make homemade Brewer's yeast and garlic dog treats which can help prevent fleas from nesting on your dog's skin. Unfortunately, many people don't keep up with preventative measures and by the time they find a flea, there is a major outbreak on their dog and throughout their home. This often leads people to buy dangerous chemicals instead of using environmentally friendly flea control. Not only are commercial flea killers and preventatives  dangerous for your dog's skin, they are also dangerous for the environment. By throwing away containers or rinsing things down the sink, those toxic chemicals are working their way into our soil and water supply. The good news is that even if you have a flea outbreak, if you are willing to spend the time, you can get rid of fleas without any chemicals at all.

Environmentally friendly flea control means using earth-friendly items like: flea combs, mild soapy water, Borax, lemon juice, and salt. Salt and Borax sprinkled around floor trim and on carpets will kill the fleas by absorbing the water in them and drying them out until they die. Not a great way for them to die, but easy enough for you to vacuum up and dispose of!By frequently combing and bathing your dog with mild soapy water, you can kill fleas, eggs, and everything in between. After a thorough combing and bathing, be sure to finish things off with fresh lemon juice.

I have three dogs, live on five acres of woods and grass, and have been fighting fleas naturally for over three years now. These methods work, if you are consistent and put the time into it.  For more information, read this article: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Your Dog Without Chemicals.

Finally, I warn against buying products at the store that are labeled as Earth-friendly or Eco-friendly flea products. Always read the labels and do your research. Some products start with plant-based ingredients and are modified with man-made chemicals. Other products only list some of the ingredients and then say "99% natural ingredients"....if those 'natural' ingredients aren't listed, I wouldn't trust it!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Safe and Eco-friendly Dog Toys

Dogs love play time, but as an earth-conscious dog owner, it is important for me to think about what I will allow my dogs to play with and what kind of dog toys I will buy for them. I recently wrote an article for Petcentric about strange things my dog plays with and discussed how much my one dog loves to play with recyclables. Now, although that may seem as the perfect Pupcycled way to play, it really isn't safe. My dog could get a plastic cap stuck in his throat or cut himself on a soup can. So, I do occasionally throw water bottles around and let him fetch them because he likes the sound they make, but there are other safe and eco-friendly dog toys out there.

Here is a list of some great earth friendly dog toys:

As you can see from the pictures, Charlie can enjoy water bottles safely tied inside an old cotton sock.

I would love for you to share other ideas you have in the comments section below!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Preparing for a Dog Walk or Race

In a few weeks we will be taking our black lab mix to a dog walk in Pittsburgh. I am excited to try something like this for the first time. Before signing up for this event, there were a few things I took into consideration:

  • How well does my dog walk on a lease?
  • How will I clean up after my dog all day long?
  • How well does my dog get along with strange dogs she doesn't know?
  • How well does my dog get along with people she doesn't know?
  • Is my dog up to date on all her shots?
  • How far can my dog walk without taking a break or getting worn out?
  • How will I give my dog water during the day?
  • How will my dog do in the long car ride to get to and from the event?
  • How well does my dog do with large crowds?
Preparing for a dog walk or race needs to start happening at least a month in advance. The walk my dog will be doing is fairly short and simple. My dog goes on long walks and up to two mile runs with me at least once a week, so she is physically prepared for this simple walk. My dog loves people and is good with other dogs, but I am still going to take her to some soccer games the next few weekends to get her around other dogs and people before this event. If you have a dog park or dog play groups in your area that might be something to look into doing before a dog walk or race. 

Not all dogs will do well at a dog walk or race, so you definitely should think ahead and try some things out before making a decision. Our other dog, Charlie, is very friendly and gets along well with people and kids, but not always with other dogs. He is also very protective of our black lab, Sophie. We decided to have someone dog sit him for the day instead of taking him with to participate on this walk. Charlie is only two years old, so as he gets older and maybe shows signs of getting along better with other dogs, we will take him to a dog walk, but for now, we feel better about just taking Sophie on this adventure.

I will be using eco-friendly dog waste bags and my new upcycled dog treat and waste bag holder on the day of the walk. I also plan to order some type of travel water bowl. I like the look and size of the Popware bowl. The Popware bowl is BPA free and reusable, so it is a more eco-friendly option than some other things, but I think it would still take a really long time to decompose in the landfill when it does get thrown away, so it is a better option than other things, but maybe not the BEST option. The best option might be from Olive, it is a reusable and recyclable and BPA free water bottle bowl in one. I have to think a bit on which one I will actually end up buying, but I am glad there are great (and reasonably priced) products out there for those dog owners, like myself, that want to have a greener lifestyle for our pets. 

Be sure to check back to see pictures of the walk and hear how it went!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Travel Size Upcycled Dog Treat/Doggie Doo Holder

Do you have some old purses, bags, jeans, or pants that no longer work for you or have ripped zippers or stains? If so, consider using parts of them to make upcycled travel size dog treat or doggie doo bag holders. Below are three examples with directions. I only used materials that were 100% cotton (eco-friendly) and parts that could be recycled.

Puppy Treat Holder
This one is great if you have a puppy that you are training and would like to have some very small treats on hand. I used the cellphone holder part of a purse and the strap. It came off of a jean purse that had a ripped zipper and would have normally been thrown out. It was 100% cotton so it would have eventually decomposed, but being able to salvage some of it and use it longer is what upcycling is all about! I also used an old baby shirt with puppy paw prints on it to make it look more like it is for a dog.  In addition to a cellphone holder from an old purse, you will need liquid stitch and puffy paint (optional). You will need to cut the shirt and adhere it to the cellphone holder using liquid stitch. be sure to fold over all cut edges for a nice finish!

treat holder hanging on the door

front of holder with puffy paint writing
back of holder covered in paw print fabric
 from an old baby  shirt

Treat Holder for Large Dogs
This treat holder was made from an Eddie Bauer bag that came with a small gift set and a pocket form a pair of jeans that had hold. I again used liquid stitch to adhere the pocket to the bag and I used puffy paint to decorate. You could actually use a small recycled peanut butter jar to put the treats in and then put that inside this bag OR just put the treat right into the bag. The drawstring makes it easy to put around your wrist. So many little gifts come with these drawstring type bags that they are easy to find and most people just end up throwing them away. The jean pocket is a nice addition because you can slip a few doggie doo bags in there. (Be sure to use the biodegradable eco-friendly kind)!
drawstring bag from gift set

jean pocket cut from jeans
(used entire pocket, front and back)

finished product all glued together

Double Pocket Treat Holder for the Wrist
This one is made from two cargo pant pockets. If you have a son or grandson under the age of 12, getting pockets from pants is so easy. They put stains and holes in their jeans and cargo pants all the time and all you have to do is cut the pockets off and then use the rest of the pants to make a dog rope toy. I also had a pair of pants that had bungee type cord that was used to tighten the bottom. I took that out and then put holes in the one pocket to attach the bungee strap. I then glued the two pockets together using liquid stitch. This helped keep the bungee cord secure between the two pockets. If you are good at sewing, you could sew everything together. I can put treats in one pocket and doggie doo bags in the other. It fits around my wrist and can even be put up on my forearm and tightened, if needed.
cargo pants, pockets cut from these
bungee string
bungee string being taken from
another pair of pants

bungee put through two holes in one pocket
and tied in the back and then covered
with the other pocket

finished treat holder
dog treats inside holder and then placed on wrist 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Getting Ready for Spring Walks with Your Dog

According to the calendar (and the groundhog) it is spring. However, where I live, we still have snow and temperatures below 40 degrees. I am really looking forward to some nice days soon to take my dogs out for walks. Since we live on five acres, my dogs get to run free all the time, it is me who doesn't want to go for long walks in the cold. I do like to run, so as soon as the weather is at least in the 40s, I will resume my running routine and my black lab, Sophie, will run with me. To get myself motivated to run more this spring, I just signed up the for Pittsburgh 5k on May 4th and in the process, found out they have a dog walk as well. I signed my daughter up to walk with Sophie and I think it is going to be a lot of fun. If you like walking with your dog, you may want to see if there are any dog walks scheduled in your area. Active.com lists a lot of races and walks (for humans and dogs) and you can search in a variety of ways. Even if you can't find a dog walk in your area, maybe there is a 5k walk or run you could participate in to benefit a local shelter or dog related cause.

If you are preparing to do a dog walk or want to start running with your dog, just keep in mind that dogs need to build up and train just like humans do. Check out this blog from Dr. Sophia Yin for ways to help train your dog to run with you or get other ideas for ways to help your dog get enough exercise. Sophie has shed some extra pounds by running with me and eating healthier treats and she looks really healthy and not so round anymore.

If you do take your dog to running or walking events, or even just take long walks near your neighborhood, you also should try to have eco-friendly, biodegradable dog waste bags with you at all times. I think Natural Pet Warehouse has a really cute dog waste holder with biodegradable bags! You can also find eco-friendly waste bags at most pet stores and online at Amazon.

If you do know of any dog walks or fun dog activities, please share them in the comments section below!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Healthy Homemade Dog Treats

If you eat a healthy whole food diet, consider upcycling your leftovers into yummy homemade healthy dog treats. Check out my article on How to Make Healthy Homemade Dog Treats.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Environmentally Friendly Ways to Fight Fleas

Spring is in the air and that means pretty soon, dog owners will once again have the joy of dealing with fleas on their dogs. Although commercial flea products usually work well and take little effort to use, most of them are not very friendly for the environment. The excessive use of those chemicals in your home can also be dangerous to your family's health as well as to your dog. There are many natural ways to deal with fleas that are equally as effective as commercial products BUT....it does require some extra time and effort on the part of the dog owner.

Check out this article on how to make a homemade flea collar using lemon juice. The article also contains information about the chemicals used in commercial flea collars. Spraying my dogs and home with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar as well as frequent cleaning is the most effective way I have found to keep my home free of fleas. Since I live in a rural area and have two dogs, I feel like I am constantly battling to keep the fleas out of my house. Fortunately, I have very little carpeting in my home and I have a junk tub in my basement I can use to rinse and bathe my dogs frequently. If you truly want to fight fleas naturally and without chemicals you need to put time aside every day, but in the end I truly think it is time well spent to keep pets, people and the environment healthy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Homemade Dog Toys

Check out this article I wrote on Homemade Dog Toys. My dogs just loved the homemade toy filled with treats. I have decided I will be replacing raw hides with this inexpensive eco-friendly idea. I would love to really get creative with sewing dog toys, the problem is I have two medium sized dogs that love to chew and destroy things, so the rope toy and treat filled toy are easy enough to make and won't get me upset if they are ripped to pieces, however if I spent an hour sewing together a cute dog bone shaped toy, I would likely cry if they destroyed it. I think what I will try this week is making a dog bone shaped toy with a rope braid coming out of each end. That may last longer than just a toy. I have some more old jeans that I could use for the dog bone and braid....hmmmm......check back in a week to see how I made out!