There are roughly 78 million dogs living as pets in the U.S., according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). That’s 312 million paws running around, 156 million ears perked up, and 78 million tails wagging in anticipation when you walk through the door each day. Such a high population of dogs means it’s especially important to be an environmentally responsible pet owner. Make greener choices in food and grooming products to help your Maltese thrive, and create a sustainable world for happier dogs.
Most packaged dog foods do not address the nutritional needs of the average dog. Typical bagged dog food has been deemed “unfit for human consumption” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as it contains the by-products of otherwise unusable animal parts, according to peta.org. Generic packaged food also raises ethical environmental questions. Researchers Robert and Brenda Vale conducted a 20-year study that equated the environmental effects of feeding a medium sized dog for one year with owning two Toyota Land Cruisers. Although your petite Maltese’s impact might be more on par with a Mini Cooper, there are natural choices that can ensure their health and the health of the environment, and they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
- Sojo’s Real Food for Healthy Pets comes in original, gluten-free and grain-free. Sojo’s comes in two or eight pound bags that cost $25-$85. The beauty of Sojo’s is that you mix the concentrate with water or a protein source, and a little goes a long way, especially for a Maltese.
- Darwin’s Natural Pet Products take the a raw, balanced diet to the extreme. Darwin’s features USDA-approved, natural, fresh meat and vegetables, with no grain, fillers, hormones or chemical pesticides. Darwin’s is the Park Avenue of healthy dog food, except it only costs $3-$7 per pound.
- Homemade dog food can also help you maximize your dog’s health and minimize environmental impact. Organicpetdigest.com features a buffet of recipes depending on your Maltese’s age, weight and medical needs.
Flea and tick medication, and even some shampoos and sunscreens can have dangerous effects on your dog’s coat. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warns that the EPA has lagged on banning the dangerous, carcinogenic neurotoxin propoxur from many pet products. When your Maltese goes bounding out the doggie doors and into the yard, make sure their skin and coat are protected, naturally. Products like Tickless Pet Ultrasonic Flea & Tick Pendant can run up to $50, but you can also make your own natural insect repellent that not only protects them, but also smells good. According to Ecolife, there are a number of easy-to-make flea and tick repellents, safe for everyday use:
- Fill a spray bottle with a 2-to-1 ratio of water and tea tree oil to repel ticks and disinfect skin and fur.
- Apply 5-10 drops of Neem oil onto your hands and massage fur to repel insects of all kinds. Safe for pets and humans.
- For an all-encompassing herbal repellent, mix equal portions of rosemary, wormwood, southernwood, tansy, pennyroyal, and eucalyptus or lavender oil with boiling water to activate the herbs and, voila: bye-bye pests Note: wait until the mixture cools to apply, then reapply every 2-3 days until the pest problem is gone.