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 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!