As an environmentally conscious person (sometimes a little too conscious), I spend a good amount of time trying to lower my carbon footprint. When I adopted my dog, I was a bit disappointed in most of the supplies given to me by the rescue organization.
There were toys made from synthetic materials, dog food and treats full of meat byproduct and filler, shampoos full of chemicals, and a dog bed made from who knows what. Even more disappointing, the cheap materials broke down pretty quickly and needed replacement often.
So rather than waste more of my money and the environment’s resources, I started hunting down eco-friendly alternatives for my dog. Turns out there are a ton of green dog supplies out there – everything from organic dog food to recycled leashes.
Health, Environmental, and Financial Benefits
Going green with your dog is more than just a trend; it benefits your pup’s health, the environment, and your wallet.
Commercial dog foods often use a meat “meal” as the main ingredient. Meat meal does include meat, but it also includes byproducts, such as beaks, necks, feet, and whatever else the dog food company wants to throw in there. The second most common ingredient in commercial dog foods is corn or wheat, which is basically just filler and has virtually no nutritional value for your pup.
In fact, some dogs can develop a corn or gluten allergy after consuming too much of the stuff, and because of these fillers, dogs must consume a larger amount of food to get the same sustenance they would from high-quality food. This, in turn, means their bodies must work harder to process and excrete the indigestible byproducts and fillers.
Not only that, but some dog foods also add carcinogenic preservatives, such as BHT, to keep their products shelf-stable for years. However, organic dog food brands often use human grade ingredients, meaning the food won’t include anything you couldn’t eat yourself, and no fillers. Plus, meat is usually the first ingredient on the list.
I think my dog will really reap these benefits as she ages. Just like people, if dogs eat well throughout their lives, there’s a good chance they’ll stay healthy and live longer.
When it comes to treats and supplies, most commercial brands use synthetic materials or ones that come from virgin ore and other natural resources. These materials take a long time to regenerate and sourcing them harms the environment and limits our resources. Moreover, once your pup tears the toy apart and you throw it away, it will sit in a landfill causing even more damage as it breaks down and releases harmful chemicals into the soil which can leach into our water supply.
However, the toys and supplies I’ve listed below either use recycled materials or sustainable plants like hemp and bamboo, which are gentler on the planet and biodegrade much faster than plastic without the toxic residue.
While this is all great news, my commitment to greening my dog has actually saved me some money. It’s true that organic food and treats cost a bit more, but my dog eats less (since the food has better ingredients, you don’t have to feed as much). The toys and supplies I buy her also last much longer than the cheap plastic ones, which means I’ve cut way down on my trips to resupply her toys.
Plus, I’ve also saved on vet bills. Sadly, a few friends of mine have had to rush their pooches to the vet after the poor things got sick from commercial treats or a bad batch of food. But so far, this hasn’t been an issue for me with organic food.
Dogs require a range of products and most of us love indulging them. From food to leashes and toys to treats, here are a few great green ones to get you started.
Organic Dog Food
Switching your dog to an organic diet can improve your pup’s overall health and well-being. After switching my dog to an organic dog food, for example, her coat started to look healthier, her breath improved, and she had more energy.
- Wellness Super 5 Mix. The Wellness Super 5 Mix comes in ten different varieties, including a special formula for puppies, one for weight control, and one for active lifestyles. Whole meat sources are the primary ingredient in any Wellness dog food and the Super 5 mix includes a variety of vegetables and fruit, which give your pup a healthy coat. Out of all the organic dog foods I’ve tried, I saw the most difference in my dog with the Wellness brand. While some other brands seem to give her digestion issues, this one doesn’t and her coat is full, shiny, and beautiful.
- Natural Balance Synergy. Natural Balance makes a few varieties of dog food, all of which include all-natural ingredients like whole meat sources and vegetables. Natural Balance Synergy, which comes in a puppy, adult, and senior variety, also has probiotics, which improve your dog’s overall health and well-being.
- Nutro Ultra. Nutro Ultra has a mix of whole meat, fruits, vegetables, and grains like pumpkin, pomegranate, flax seeds, sunflower oil, chicken, and spinach. The mix improves your dog’s coat, joint health, and overall well-being. My dog seems to prefer the flavor of this food over other natural dog foods, and I did notice she had tons of energy after meals.
- Halo Spot’s Stew. Halo’s canned Spot’s Stew has all natural ingredients and no added preservatives. It comes in chicken, salmon, lamb, and beef flavors, and each flavor has added vitamins and minerals.
- Wellness CORE Canned. The Wellness CORE canned food has high levels of protein and is completely wheat and corn free. CORE comes in these flavors: a mix of fish and a chicken liver and turkey liver variety.
- Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe. Blue Buffalo’s homestyle dinners have a mix of protein, vegetables, and grains. The homestyle dinners come in several different flavors, including a puppy mix and a senior mix.
Gravy and Toppers
- Wellness Toppers. Wellness makes five different varieties of their toppers. Each variety has all-natural ingredients and includes 95% meat. They can be added to dry kibble to increase the protein content.
- Solid Gold Green Cow. Solid Gold Green Cow is made from cow tripe (stomach lining). Personally, the smell of this stuff got to me at first, but my dog loves it and I did get used to the smell after a few cans.
- Vita Gravy. Vita Gravy is like a daily vitamin dose for your dog. The gravy includes a mix of vitamins and minerals blended together with all-natural meat flavorings. You can add it to dry kibble once a day to round out your pup’s nutrition. I squirt about 1/4 cup of this gravy onto my dog’s food and her breath and coat have improved since I started adding it.
Homecooked Dog Food and Treats
If you find the cost of organic or specialty dog food too high, you can always make your own homemade dog food recipes. If you have a crock-pot, it’s easy. Just throw in a hunk of meat, such as a chuck roast, dark and deboned chicken meat, or a piece of venison if you can get it, plus some chopped up carrots, potatoes, apples, and peas.
Then, add enough water or a mix of water and broth so that the meat is just covered (you may need to cut a very big piece of meat into smaller chunks). Next, cover your crock-pot and cook for about six to eight hours. You’ll know the dish is done once the meat tears easily with a fork. You can serve this with your dog’s dry food, over cooked rice, or straight as a special treat. Make sure it’s not too hot for your dog to consume. And if you want to cook for your dog regularly, consult with a vet or animal nutritionist to make sure their meals are well-balanced and supplement with vitamins and minerals.
We all love to reward our pups with dog treats, but many of the commercial brands just aren’t good for them. Organic treats still have a fat content (which is good for dogs), but they use more whole meat sources, and some fruits and vegetables too.
- Get Naked Chews. Get Naked Chew sticks come in several varieties including one for weight management and one for puppies. The sticks have a tougher texture, so they’ll help with gum and teeth health too.
- Halo Spot’s Chew Dental Treats. Halo’s Dental Treats come in two flavors – pumpkin and mint – and are made from all-natural ingredients. Best of all, the formula won’t stain your carpet. My dog has horrid breath, but I did notice a huge improvement after I fed her a few of the mint flavored treats.
- Smart Pup Smoothie Treats. Ubuntu’s Smoothie Treats are a bit different then the chewy treats you’re used to buying, but my dog loves them. The smoothies come in a cup, filled with all natural ingredients. My dog goes crazy over these things, and she loves every flavor. It takes her about a half an hour to get through the whole cup and she will keep licking long after the treat is gone.
- Cloud Star Buddy Biscuits. Buddy Biscuits are my dog’s all-time favorite dog treat. They’re made from organic ingredients, and come in a bunch of different flavors like molasses, bacon and cheese, and peanut butter. These treats are shaped like little Gingerbread Men and they’re easy to break apart. When I was training my dog, I broke them into about five pieces to use as rewards and they lasted much longer than the smaller reward treats do.
- Isle of Dogs Natural Treats. The Isle of Dogs Natural Treats contain no meat, but have plenty of antioxidants from fruits and veggies. The treats come in several flavors and are wheat and gluten-free to boot. However, the green pea flavor is not popular at the dog rescue where I volunteer. Some of the dogs will eat them, but most prefer the other flavors.
- Nature’s Variety Instinct. The Instinct Biscuits are 100% grain free and contain no preservatives or added chemicals. These treats have meat as a primary ingredient and come in several different flavors.
Having toys around keeps your dog engaged, and may even save your shoes or couch cushions from a destructive mouth. Most commercial toys use rubber, plastic, and synthetic cloths – none of which is gentle on the environment. But eco-friendly toys use recycled products or sustainable materials to create durable, long-lasting dog toys.
- Orbee-Tuff Artichoke. The Orbee-Tuff Artichoke is made from sustainable materials. This toy has a treat spot inside, so you can stuff a small bone or some paste in and keep your dog occupied for hours. Plus, this toy is simply adorable.
- Stuff ‘N Fetch It. The Stuff ‘N Fetch It toy is made from recycled fire hose and Velcro. The toy has a soft container you can fill with treats and a small handle you can use to play fetch or tug-of-war. A word of warning for smart dogs – mine actually figured out how to unhook the Velcro with her teeth. Though it didn’t hurt the toy, this one might be better suited for a less curious type of dog.
- Tux. The Tux is an eco-friendly take on the popular Kong toys. You can stuff the toy with treats and it will bounce and roll around while your dog plays. Best of all, the Tux toy is dishwasher safe. My dog loves to play with this toy, whether it’s filled with a treat or not. If she smacks it with her paw, the toy bounces around and does a pretty good job of keeping her entertained.
- Chiquito Banano. Chiquito Banano is made from organic cotton and has a dog-safe squeaker inside. This plush dog toy is adorable, but better suited for smaller breeds since it’s not that durable. Case in point, my 45-pounds of pure four-legged muscle had this thing shredded in about five minutes.
- Doggy Froggy. Doggy Froggy is made from corduroy and recycled materials. The inside has a squeaker inside, which lasted longer in my house than most squeakers do.
- Booda Plush. The Booda Plush comes in three different animals and two different sizes. The inside is filled with recycled material and the outside is made from organic wool. My pup loves the large-sized elephant.
Ropes and Balls
- Huck. The Huck is the size and shape of a tennis ball, but has a few grooves cut into the sides, which make it bounce around instead of roll. This toy also floats and comes with an indestructible guarantee. I have a few of these at the dog shelter and all the rescue dogs just love them.
- Owl and Ropes. This natural canvas Owl Rope is like two toys in one. The middle of the toy is an adorable cotton canvas owl with two rope ends, so your dog can chew, play fetch, or tug to his heart’s content.
- Hemp Ropes. These ropes are made from hemp, which is a sustainable material and better for the environment. Best of all, hemp is a bit stronger than most synthetic materials and can hold up against larger breeds and heavy chewers. My dog is famous for tearing ropes apart. She can actually unravel them so they become dozens of little ropes all over my house, but these hemp ropes stand up well against her heavy chewing and clever paws.
It takes a lot of gear to manage a four-legged animal. You need a good leash, a collar, and sometimes a harness – especially if you’ve got a large breed on your hands. To do your part for the environment, buy eco-friendly pup gear made from recycled or sustainable materials.
- Naturista Soy Leash. The Naturista leash is made from soy and comes in different colors. You can also personalize the leash with your dog’s name or your phone number. I have several leashes, but I use this one the most. It’s comfortable enough to wrap around your hand, but durable enough to stand up against pulling.
- Wagging Green Bamboo Leash. Wagging Green’s leash is made from sustainable bamboo and comes in different patterns. The bamboo is just as strong as any synthetic material and the leash has a sturdy metal clasp.
- Krebs Recycled Leash. Krebs recycled leashes are made from repurposed nylon climbing ropes and have a bit of spring, which is helpful for strong pullers. Plus, they come in a range of attractive colors. I use these leashes at the shelter and they work great, even with the untrained pups.
- Wagging Green Bamboo Dog Collar. Wagging Green’s bamboo collars are made entirely from bamboo and come in patterns that match the bamboo leashes.
- Recycled Bike Tubes Collar. The Cycle Dog collar is made from recycled bicycle tubes, which give the collar a bit of stretch. Plus, each collar has a steel and aluminum lock, which is almost impossible for your pup to break off. This is the collar of choice for my dog. I actually think the lock is pretty cute and my dog hasn’t Houdini’d herself free of it yet.
- Organic Cotton Collar. The Green Dog Love Organic Cotton Collar is made from 100% certified organic cotton and is available in different colors. The collar is soft and durable, but may not be suited for large breeds or heavy pullers. My dog managed to break herself free of this one. I think she just pulled so hard against it that the plastic buckle snapped, but I have given a few of these as gifts to friends with smaller dogs and they love them.
- Wagging Green Bamboo Dog Harness. The Wagging Green Bamboo Harness comes from 100% organic bamboo fibers and the mesh on the harness is certified for up to 2,000 pounds. The harness also has adjustable straps for a custom fit.
- Planet Dog Hemp Harness. Planet Dog’s hemp harness has a 100% hemp shell with a fleece lining, which is more comfortable for your pup and will help prevent chafing around the legs. My dog has a very thin coat and other harnesses have caused hair loss around her shoulder blades and chafing around her legs. I didn’t have any comfort problems with this harness and my dog loves it so much she doesn’t mind wearing it all day.
- Scrappy Pets Dog Harness. The Scrappy Pets dog harness comes from upcycled leather and aluminum. This is a step-in halter, which makes it harder for your pup to break free. Working with rescues and puppies, I’ve learned that almost any dog can break free of a halter and take off running. This halter seems to keep dogs in check, but it’s not very adjustable and you will need to measure your dog before ordering.
- Recycled Paper Dog Waste Bags. These dog waste bags are made from recycled paper, meaning they’re biodegradable and less harmful to the environment.
- Compostable Dog Bags. These compostable dog waste bags are made from corn and contain no harsh chemicals. The corn will break down into compost in 10-45 days, making them almost harmless to the environment. My local dog park keeps these bags on hand for visitors. They’re pretty thick for eco-friendly waste bags, so they cut down on the “ick” factor.
- Flush Puppies Biodegradable Waste Bags. These dog waste bags, Flush Puppies, are made from a biodegradable material that dissolves in water, so you can flush the bags in any residential toilet.
Regular bathing can keep your dog’s coat soft and shiny, but traditional pet shampoos and conditioners contain harsh chemicals that can irritate your dog’s skin or cause allergic reactions.
While you bathe your pup, those chemicals get down the drain and can pollute water streams. However, green dog shampoos and conditioners use natural ingredients, which are better for your pup and the pipes.
- Buddy Wash by Cloud Star. Cloud Star’s Buddy Wash uses a coconut base to create a good lather. The shampoo contains all natural ingredients and no alcohol, which can irritate your dog’s skin. The shampoo comes in three scents – Lavender and Mint, Rosemary and Mint, and Green Tea and Bergamot. When my dog was a puppy, she got into magic markers. Most of her white face and booties were rainbow-colored when I found her. Amazingly, this shampoo easily got it all off.
- Spa Comfort Shampoo. The Tropiclean Spa Comfort dog shampoo uses natural ingredients like lavender, oatmeal, and honey, which help soothe itchy skin. This is, by far, my favorite green dog shampoo. It smells amazing, the scent lasts several days, and my dog’s coat is always shiny and clean after a quick bath.
- Pal Dog Shampoo. The Pal Dog shampoo uses essential oils to clean and condition your pup’s skin and fur. The shampoo does not contain any parabens or harmful chemicals and comes in a variety of scents.
- Pal Dog Conditioners. The Pal Dog conditioner contains Aloe vera, sunflower seeds, and white tea extract. This conditioner works like a cream rinse and makes longer coats easier to brush.
- Cloud Star Buddy Rinse Dog Conditioner. Cloud Star’s Buddy Rinse Conditioner contains all-natural ingredients that help your dog’s coat stay healthy and soft. Buddy Rinse comes in one scent, Lavender and Mint, which compliments any of the Cloud Star dog shampoos. I thought coat conditioners were a little silly until I tried this one. The product helps maintain that just-from-the-bath softness on my dog.
- Eco-Me Dog Conditioner. The Eco-Me dog conditioner uses essential oils like grapefruit in place of harsher chemicals, and it rinses cleaner than traditional dog conditioners. This formula is also scent-free so it won’t overpower your dog’s nose.
Your dog needs a soft place to call home. Some dogs prefer having a special dog bed, while others like to sleep in their kennels with lots of soft blankets. Fortunately, you can buy the eco-friendly version of both.
- Molly Mutt Upcycled Dog Bed. The Molly Mutt Upcycled Dog Bed is like a duvet cover for dogs. The mesh case has a zippered opening you can stuff with your unwanted clothes, sheets, or towels. When the bed gets dirty, you can wash the whole thing in a washing machine. Molly Mutt sells covers for the bed, but I just toss a blanket over mine.
- West Paw Organic Cotton Bed. West Paw sells bumper dog beds made entirely from organic cotton, which is a sustainable material. The beds come in several different colors and sizes so you can find the right one for your house and your pup.
- Pool Doodle Waterproof Dog Bed. William Wagmen’s Pool Doodle Bed uses safe materials and no harsh dyes or chemicals. The bed’s inner stuffing can be removed from the bed for cleaning, but you may not need to. This bed has a waterproof case that you can easily wipe clean with a wet towel.
- Earth Dog Recycled Fleece Blanket. Earth Dog’s recycled blanket is organic hemp canvas on the outside and lined with recycled fleece on the inside. This blanket comes in four different colors and is machine washable.
- Comfy Pup Organic Cotton Blanket. The Comfy Pup blankets use 100% organic cotton to create a soft, lightweight blanket. Best of all, this blanket is fit for the washer and dryer.
- Big Sky Blankets. West Paw’s Big Sky Blanket uses synthetic furs and chemical free fabrics to create a lined, and incredibly soft, blanket. One side has a soft faux suede and the other has a sherpa lining, perfect for keeping your pup warm. The faux suede material kind of sticks to other materials, making it harder for your dog to move the blanket around. I have one of these over the backseat in my car and it’s kept the leather from getting scratched.
Though most of the green-friendly dog products I buy are often more expensive upfront, they generally last longer, which makes them cheaper in the long run. Case in point, when I used to buy commercial dog food, I had to feed my dog 3 to 4 cups every day. But now that I buy organic food, she only needs 1 to 2 cups per day, so the cost evens out. Plus, her toys actually survive now for more than just a few minutes. Read How Much Does a Dog Really Cost for more on that subject.
Of course, the financial reward doesn’t compare to the health my dog enjoys and the happiness it brings me. Not to mention that together, we’re doing our part for the environment. And best of all, I’m completely guilt free when it comes to providing my very active dog with all the supplies she needs.
Do you use organic dog food or environmentally friendly supplies for your pet? What are your favorite products?
(photo credit: Shutterstock)