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Earth Day With Fido: Pups And Plastic

April 15 2024

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd. This year, the theme is combatting the use of plastics. Earthday.org aims to reduce the use of plastics by 60 percent overall. That is definitely something that impacts pets. This is a ‘pawesome’ time to incorporate some earth-friendly tactics into your canine buddy’s care regimen. A local Rancho Santa Fe, CA vet offers some tips on spending Earth Day with Fido in this article.

Are Plastic Products Safe For Pets?

This really is no hard yes or no answer for this one. Plastics aren’t dangerous in the short term, and they usually don’t make the list of things we advise pet owners to be careful of. In fact, many dog products and toys contain or are made of plastic. That includes things like toys, dishes, leash casings, and crates.

That said, plastics aren’t exactly harmless, either. You may have noticed growing awareness and concern about microplastics. These are, as the name suggests, minuscule bits of plastic. They’ve now been found in all sorts of things. In fact, a recent report discovered that even shrimp and lobster now contain microplastics. Even rainwater in France was found to be contaminated. 

As one may expect, chemicals and microplastics have similar effects on pets and people. While more research is needed, studies have linked them to various medical issues, such as cancer and digestive issues. 

Softer plastics may also pose a choking risk, as do things like plastic bags and ties.

This doesn’t mean you have to toss out Fido’s favorite plaything or Kong toy. Just be mindful when you go shopping.

What Are Some Things I Can Do To Make My Dog’s Care Regimen More Earth-Friendly?

You don’t have to completely overhaul Fido’s care regimen to give him a greener pawprint. This is one area where small things can really add up! Here are some suggestions:

Pick Up After Your Pooch: Did you know that dog feces are a major source of water contamination? Pick up some biodegradable waste baggies, and always keep them with you. If you’re on the lookout for a new leash, look for one that has a slot for baggies.

Buy In Bulk: Getting your furry pal’s kibble can help reduce the use of packaging. There is definitely a sweet spot here, though. You don’t want to get too much, as then it may spoil before your canine pal eats it.

If you do buy large bags of dog food, you may also want to revisit your storage options. Many people use small plastic waste baskets or totes to store kibble. Opt for a stainless steel container instead. Many farm supply stores sell them for storing grain.

Choose Eco-Friendly Toys: Many dog toys contain plastics and rubber. Pay attention to the label, and look at the country of origin. Many of these products have been found to contain harmful substances, such as BPAs and even lead. Opt for things that use sustainable materials.

Give Your Pet’s Dinnerware A Pupgrade: Do you have plastic bowls and dishes for your furry buddy? If so, look into replacing them with ceramic, bamboo, or stainless steel. This applies to Fido’s treat jar, too! 

Get Your Furry Buddy Fixed: If your canine companion hasn’t been fixed yet, we strongly advise getting this done as soon as possible. There are already millions of stray and homeless pets out there who are in desperate need of good homes. This is not only the responsible thing to do as far as general animal welfare, it will also help conserve resources.

Opt For Eco-Friendly Cleaning Methods: Dogs are wonderful pets and companions, but they can make messy roommates. There are a few things you can do to incorporate earth-friendly practices into your doggy cleanup methods. 

One is to go for cleaning products that are made from renewable resources. For instance, if your pet likes to make nose print art on your windows, use a vinegar cleaner to get rid of Fido’s masterpieces. You can also get biodegradable garbage bags. 

Keep Up With Preventative Care: You may not immediately think that giving your furry pal his flea medication on time would do much for the planet. However, it’s much easier and cheaper to protect your pet from parasites and diseases than it is to treat him for them. Treating medical issues that could have been prevented ultimately makes things much harder on Fido. It also means more resources (including plastics) will be needed. It also costs more. If your pet develops a condition that requires surgical intervention, minimally invasive options like Freeze Pen Cryo Surgery may be available. If your canine companion hasn’t been to our Santa Fe, CA veterinarian in a while, this is a great reminder to make that appointment! 

What Happens If My Dog Eats Plastic? 

We really can’t write a blog about dogs and plastic without addressing this one. Some of our canine patients are really voracious chewers, that will gnaw on anything in paws’ reach … including plastics. Fido also has a penchant for eating the squeakers in chew toys. 

While dogs sometimes can pass very small pieces of plastic naturally, even small pieces of plastic can cause obstructions. These can be very dangerous, and can even be life-threatening. If you know or suspect that your dog has eaten plastic, contact your Rancho Santa Fe, CA vet immediately. Our Veterinary Surgery team is equipped to handle these types of emergencies and provide the care your pet needs.

What Can I Do With My Dog’s Fur?

When you brush Fido, do you end up with enough dog fur to make a whole other dog? You can of course throw it away, but there are greener options. 

If you’re really crafty, you can make yarn or felt out of it. You don’t even have to do it yourself. Companies such as Knit Your Dog will do it for you. Check their website here for details. 

Do you like to garden? Stuff a pair of cut pantyhose with Fido’s fur and hang it from your garden beds. This is a handy deterrent for rabbits and other critters. You can also just spread it around the base of your plants. 

Another great option? Send it to a company that uses it to clean oil spills. Matter of Trust is a great one. You can find more information about them on their website here

Last but not least? Just let it blow away. Birds often use it for their nests. 

What Should I Do For Earth Day? 

Weather permitting, this would be a great time to take your canine companion to a park or trail. The sunlight, fresh air, and exercise will be good for both of you! 

You can also tackle some quick and easy home projects. Plant some native flora, things that will attract pollinators. Or, put in a little herb garden. Your furry pal will be more than happy to supervise.

Those who do garden may also want to look into earth-friendly options for attracting beneficial insects and keeping away the bad ones. Ladybugs, for instance, eat many harmful pests. Recent studies have even shown that certain insects, such as mealworms, even eat plastic.

Going with eco-friendly methods is also safer for your dog. Pet poisonings are one of the most common causes of emergency animal clinic visits. Lawn and garden chemicals are very dangerous to Fido. Opt for eco-friendly products and methods. For instance, if you are dealing with hornets, try putting a paper grocery bag up on your porch. They’ll think it’s a competitor’s nest and move on! 

This also seems like a good place to mention the dangers of slug baits, which are very toxic to dogs. (Tip: sprinkle oats around your plants instead.)

Last but not least, even spreading the word can help. This of course would also be a great time to share some really cute pictures of your furry bestie. Share information—such as this blog—on social media. Remember to use the appropriate hashtags: #Earthday EarthDay.

#EarthDay, #GoGreen, #SaveThePlanet, #EcoFriendly.

Book An Appointment At Your Rancho Santa Fe, CA Pet Hospital

Do you have questions or concerns about your dog’s health or care? Is Fido due for a wellness exam? Contact us, your  Rancho Santa Fe, CA  pet hospital, anytime! 

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