Green pets

Natural and sustainable practices for your animals


In Boulder, it isn’t all that surprising to see a girl walking by with her cat sitting on her shoulder or a guy riding a scooter with his golden retriever perched in a backpack behind him. So it seems only natural that the eco-friendly movement would carry over to furry friends.

Though pets have a much smaller carbon footprint than humans, making a few changes in a pet’s diet, shampoo and toys does make a difference in the environment, and the market for environmentally friendly pet products is growing, says Carol Kuzdek, owner of Whole Pets in Boulder.

“Environmentally friendly pet products are becoming more common,” Kuzdek says. “There are hemp and organic cotton toys, soy leashes that are compostable and West Paw beds that are made out of recycled material.”

Changing the food and environment surrounding your pets can also help with their health, Kuzdek says.

“A lot of cancer and diseases are probably genetic, but I think there is a lot that a natural diet can do in terms of promoting health and longevity,” Kuzdek says. “Environmental things that are out there like pesticides and fertilizers also cause a lot of illnesses and disease. Being cautious about where you take your animal is very important.”

Marti Matsch of Eco-Cycle says she agrees with Kuzdek’s beliefs.

“There are so many ways your pet is both affecting the environment and being affected by it,” Matsch says. “They’re closer to the ground than we are, of course, so that means they’re susceptible to toxins like pesticides in the grass and toxins in your carpet and floors. So in addition to just considering things like their shampoos, their food and how to manage pests like fleas, it’s important to consider how you care for the environment around them, since that can have a direct effect on their health.”

A recently published article by Eco-Cycle outlines a few ways you can make your pet more environmentally friendly, including natural alternatives for flea and tick control like flea combs and brewer’s yeast tablets, avoiding toys made from PVC, an unrecyclable plastic, and yes, picking up the poop to prevent water contamination and harmful weed growth.

Environmentally friendly grooming options are also becoming more readily available. Whole Pets and Only Natural Pet Store both offer several natural shampoos and conditioners for dogs and cats, as well as natural flea and tick preventatives and remedies. Green Dog Wash, located in The Village shopping center on Arapahoe and Folsom, offers self-service and full-service grooming with natural products and sells natural treats and toys.

Though changing your pet to a more natural and sustainable regimen may cost more, it is worth it, Kuzdek says.

“Natural toys and food and other things are definitely more expensive, but there are two reasons for doing it,” Kuzdek says. “One is you are helping the environment and your pet’s health, and two, you are helping economically, because a lot of these products are made here in the U.S.”