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Go Green for Your Dog's Health

By Elizabeth Wasserman
They’ll go for a walk. They’ll go fetch. They'll go down and roll over. But how do you get your dog to
go green?

Millions of people are realizing that it's better for our health to drink filtered water, recycle and stay away
from chemicals and plastics. They're also starting to realize that a green lifestyle holds some of the same
benefits for their dogs.

"A lot of the things you can do are not that hard, don't require a great deal of effort, and are simple
steps you can take to make life more green for your dog," says Lisa Peterson, communications director
with the American Kennel Club.

Toxins in the Home

Your home and yard are likely the places where you and your pet spend most of your time. But while
you eat off ceramic plates and drink bottled water, Rover is eating and drinking out of plastic bowls.
While you walk around in shoes and sleep in a bed, your dog is walking barefoot on the floor and rolling
around on the carpet. Here's how to handle potential dangers:

  • Replace plastic bowls With all the recent hysteria about the potential health impacts of
    Bisphenol A (BPA), a compound used to make many plastic water bottles and baby bottles, it
    may be time to look at your doggie’s dishes. Replace water and food bowls made of plastic and
    use stainless steel instead. Studies show BPA may be an endocrine disrupter, meaning it can alter
    the body’s hormonal system.

  • Change your floor cleaners "Think about what you use on your kitchen floor. You may want
    to go with something more natural," suggests Peterson. Although the floor may look clean to
    you, keep in mind that some dogs lick the floor when you drop food, and these cleaners may be
    harmful to your dog. "The bottom line here," adds veterinarian Michael Fox, Ph.D., B. author of
    over 40 books and the syndicated newspaper column Animal Doctor, "is to go back to basics for
    cleaners, such as white vinegar and baking soda."

  • Rid your home of deodorizers Room fresheners, plug-in deodorizers and cleaning supplies with
    fragrances can be harmful -- especially to pets that may accidentally eat or lick such things. Air
    fresheners can contain varying amounts of phthalates – compounds that the Centers for Disease
    Control found may cause cancer, hormone abnormalities and other health problems. Natural ways
    to freshen the air include using baking soda to absorb odors, taking the trash out every day, and
    boiling a sliced lemon.

  • Use filtered water Your family may prefer drinking filtered or bottled water rather than plain tap
    water. Fox suggests that you may want to take the same precautions for your pet. Using a
    water filter will get rid of any chlorine or fluoride in the water.

  • Avoid harmful lawn products Landscapists may use pesticides, deer repellents, fertilizers and
    plant foods that are chemical-based and can be hazardous to your dog's health. Some of these
    chemicals are known carcinogens. She suggests working with landscapers or garden store staff
    to find more natural solutions to common yard problems.

Dangerous Medications
Fox recommends seeking out a holistic veterinarian if you want to help your pet to "go green.” There is
a searchable list on the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Web site.

Watch out for flea and tick medicines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is
intensifying its review of these products, particularly topical products applied to the skin, after recent
upturns in complaints about adverse reactions from pets. These reactions range from skin irritation to
seizures, and in some rare cases, death of the pet. Fox recommends natural anti-flea and tick remedies,
including:

  • Combing your dog regularly with a fine-toothed flea comb to remove ticks and fleas

  • Vacuuming daily to remove eggs and larvae

  • Putting brewer's yeast and vitamin B complex supplements in pet foods as a natural repellent

  • Using natural topical repellents, such as lemon and eucalyptus

Common household products, from rug cleaners to chew toys, can also be harmful for your dog. It's
important to look for adverse reactions. "If your dog all of a sudden starts itching, scratching or biting its
paws, you can play doggie detective," Peterson says. "Ask yourself, 'Did I just use a new rug cleaner or
sprinkle something on the rug?’ The product itself may be safe, but individual dogs may have a reaction
to it."