Having a dog adds tremendous joy to life. Man’s best friend is always there to comfort us, to help spark friendly conversations with strangers, protect us, and connect us more with the great outdoors.
But, as with most wonderful things, being a dog owner ushers in big responsibilities. There are the obvious ones: keep them well fed, exercised, and loved, etc. But for many pet owners, one oft-overlooked responsibility is that of environmental stewardship. Fortunately there are many ways dog owners can be sure they are doing their part to take good care of the planet, as well as their furry companions. Right at the top is skin and fur care.
Grooming dogs is a challenging task often best left to professionals. But if you are up to the challenge, home grooming can be a great way to bond with your pets and cut costs. What’s more, you can do it in a way that is environmentally friendly, and better for your dog’s health. If you are going to do most of the heavy lifting in your dog’s routine fur care, here are four tips for how to keep it green:
1. Avoid shampoos with harsh chemicals
Many commercial dog soaps and shampoos are full of ingredients that are harmful to both your dog and the environment. Much like the cleaning products you would buy for yourself, there are more natural options that are skin- and eco-friendly.
There are plenty of benefits to using a natural shampoo for your dog. For instance, harsh traditional soaps strip skin of its natural oils and nutrients and can cause dryness and irritation, where natural remedies are known to leave the skin in better shape.
In general, try to steer clear of products containing these ingredients:
- Parabens (preservatives, often called methyl paraben, propyl paraben, isopropyl paraben)—These chemicals can pollute water supplies and have been linked to a number of health issues in animals and humans alike.
- Added fragrance—Your dog has a much stronger sense of smell than you do, and strong-smelling cleaners can irritate them to the point of headaches. They also sometimes contain phthalates which have been linked to various birth defects. Try to find scentless shampoos or ones with only mild natural scents.
- Sulfates —Lots of available shampoos contain sulfates, which are proven to be harmful, in addition to causing itchiness in the skin. Make sure to find one that is sulfate free.
There are certainly other ingredients to watch out for, but careful vetting of what’s in your dog’s shampoo and leaning toward natural ingredients like aloe vera will lead you on the right path.
2. Look for bottles made from recycled materials
It is becoming easier to find shampoo manufacturers that sell their products in bottles made from recycled materials. Single use or disposable plastics are terrible for the environment, so avoid them wherever possible.
3. Go waterless
Unless your dog rolls in some serious muck, you can keep their coat shiny and clean with a variety of waterless shampoos or foams. Larger dogs especially require a lot of water to get clean, so these products can reduce wasted water significantly. As with regular shampoo, seek ones with natural ingredients and you can’t go wrong.
4. Use natural wipes
Many dog owners use wipes to help keep the fur on their bottoms clean, or just to generally keep their coats conditioned. Use only environmentally friendly wipes made specifically for dogs. Baby wipes can contain chemicals that irritate canine skin, so do not use those.
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