When you are considering adopting a pet, head to a reputable animal shelter and save a life that needs you.
- Many homeless animals are put down each year, while so-called "puppy mills" over-breed and inbreed to meet the pet store demand for certain purebred dogs.
- Many people will tell you that the best dog they ever had was the mutt they saved from a shelter (but don't be surprised to find that purebred dog you may want there as well).
- Some shelters have other small animals besides cats and dogs.
- Ask around-there's sure to be a neighbor with an unexpected brood of baby hamsters or kittens that need homes.
- Minimize the pet population by making sure your cat or dog is spayed or neutered.
- Don't let your female hamster out on a "play dates" with the male hamster who lives next door.
- Don't run out and buy chemical-laden plastic toys when an old football or tennis ball will do just fine. Ever see a dog chase a stick? Doesn't get much better than that.
Get ticked off
Flea and tick collars expose your pet all day and night to harmful chemicals. What's more, you and your children are in close contact with these chemicals as well. The number one alternative to these collars is diligent preventive care.
- Check your pets for ticks every time they come inside, combing them for fleas, and washing them regularly with a non-toxic shampoo.
- Vacuum your home often to remove fleas, mites and other small passengers who came in on the backs of furry friends.
- Brewers yeast works wonders at thwarting fleas.
Get a green lawn
Don't overlook those pesticides you're pouring onto your lawn. Dogs and cats are close to the ground and are breathing them in, plus they drag residues into the house on their paws.
- Convert your lawn to native plants, shrubs and grasses, or even a low-growing groundcover like Dutch clover that your pets can still tramp over. This is called xeriscaping. These landscapers can help.
Stale, dusty, allergen-infested indoor air can affect your allergies, but it can also aggravate your pet's health as well.
- Open a window and let fresh air in, but weigh it against the chance of introducing pollen and mold into your home.
- Keep air ducts clean.
- Vacuum often, and reduce the use of curtains and carpeting, where possible.
- Don't forget to keep litter boxes, cages and aquariums clean with the most natural, non-toxic products you can find.
- Put these housecleaners on the job, and check out these other experts who can help.
Give healthcare a checkup
More and more veterinarians and other animal healthcare providers are recognizing the demand and value for earth-friendly, health-enhancing alternatives to mainstream care.
- Ask your vet about natural food options, alternatives to flea collars and medications, complementary therapies such as chiropractic care and massage therapy, and environmental improvements you can make to reduce symptoms your pets may be experiencing such as sneezing, rashes or breathing difficulties.
- If your vet isn't up on these approaches yet, consider changing doctors or augmenting the care you currently receive with specialists in holistic pet healthcare.