Green Pet Care: Safe, Non-Toxic & Sustainable Products

Eco-journalist Candice Batista helps us “green” our pets.

If you happen to be anything like me, you are probably worried about having PVC, phthalates, lead, and Bisphenol A (BPA) lurking in your home. The problem is that these toxic chemicals are found in just about everything we use on a daily basis.

Trying to sift through it all and find better alternatives can be a daunting task. The federal government has banned lead in kids’ toys, BPA in baby bottles and, more recently, phthalates in kids’ personal care products. While these are steps in the right direction, we should have more control over what we are putting on and in our bodies. Currently, there is little to no regulation on the chemicals that end up pervading our daily lives and the same goes for out pets.

Back in 2008, the Environmental Working Group conducted a groundbreaking study that found that pets are polluted “with even higher levels of many of the same synthetic industrial chemicals that researchers have recently found in people, including newborns.” The study adds that “the results show that America’s pets are serving as involuntary sentinels of the widespread chemical contamination that scientists increasingly link to a growing array of health problems across a wide range of animals—wild, domesticated and human.”

Pets face chemical exposures that in some ways are similar to those of infants and toddlers, who have limited diets and play close to the floor and put their hands and household objects in their mouths far more often than adults. For pets as for children, exposures are greater and the resulting health risks are higher.

The study found that both cats and dogs had high levels of Teflon chemicals most likely from food contaminated with PFCs leaching from food bag coatings, as well as house dust, and stain-proofed furniture, dog beds, and carpets.

Dogs and cats were also found to have high levels of phthalates (plastic softeners) mostly from plastic toys and certain medication and fire retardants found in bedding, house dust and even food.

The study also notes that “dogs and cats were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemicals tested, including 43 chemicals at levels higher than those typically found in people, according to our study of plastics and food packaging chemicals, heavy metals, fire retardants, and stain-proofing chemicals in pooled samples of blood and urine from 20 dogs and 37 cats collected at a Virginia veterinary clinic”.

These are troubling findings if you ask me, so what’s a pet owner to do?

Give them sustainable goods (bed, toys, etc) 

Look for toys made from either recycled materials or sustainable fibers (sans herbicides or pesticides) such as hemp. Here are three online stories you can check out! Making your own pet toys is fun too.

West Paw Design
West Paw Design are really going the distance with their products. Owner and President Spencer Williams had this to say when I talked to him about his products: “We care about the pets we’re making products for and we want to keep them happy and healthy.” Their popular toys are made with Zogoflex materials that are non-toxic, BPA-free, and phthalate-free and their eco-toys are made with recycled PET plastic that has been certified safe by Oko-Tex, a third-party organization.

Jolly Pets
You can really get jolly about Jolly Pets and these products. They offer a line of fabulous, fun and, most importantly, safe toys. Their chew toys, balls, critters, and floating toys are all BPA, PVC, and phthalate free. I also love this company because they take reducing toxins one step further by having their products certified by a third party for lead safety. They use a patented plastic blend that comes in both high and low density form (both are recyclable) and all scrap is reground and recycled. The plastic blend was not only chosen because of its durability but also for the safety of pets and environment. The rubber products are made from all natural, non-toxic rubber, which is also chosen for its strength and eco-friendly purposes. Jolly Pets has recycling information on all of their packaging for both the outer cardboard packaging and the product when it’s time to replace them.

Planet Dog
You can find Planet Dog items in many pet stores in and around Toronto or online. Their Orbee Tuff toys are made using Thermo Plastic Elastomer (TPR), which is a safer plastic alternative. I love these products because they can be recycled and are tested for lead safety.

Use natural pet-care and cleaning products
Read the labels and make sure there are no nasty chemicals lurking in your pets shampoo etc. This chart will help. And also use non-toxic cleaners to wipe up after your fury little friend. I’d prefer you make your own though! 🙂

Feed them the right food
Many conventional pet-food brands are made up of animal-byproducts that offer no nutrition at all and in fact are know as inedibles, you would eat that, so why feed it to your pet! The animals used to make many pet foods are classified as “4-D,” which is really a polite way of saying “Dead, Dying, Diseased, or Down (Disabled)”.  The only way to avoid this is to look for a  label that states that the food is FDA-certified food-grade meat. Shop for your pets food in the same way you’d shop for you family, local, organic, humanely raised foods without hormones and antibiotics added. And avoid artificial preservatives, artificial ingredients or genetically modified ingredients

Avoid canned food as it is often laden with toxins that can sicken your pet. The 2017 Ecology Center study called Pets Beware: Toxic Chemicals in Pet Food Can Linings found:

  • Almost all cat food cans tested (95%) had a polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based coating
  • Most dog food cans (81%) had a bisphenol A (BPA)-based coating
  • Pet food cans overall had a higher frequency of both BPA-based and PVC-based coatings than human food cans.

I really like Acana as a good food company for your pets.

Go with natural kitty litter 
Clumping Kitty litter that contains sodium bentonite is bad for your cat and the environment. It can poison your kitty through chronic ingestion while grooming and the  clay can also cause lung problems. Opt for a healthier kitty litter made from recycled newspapers, corn, pine needles or wheat.

The bottom line is that it’s important to understand that a lot of toxic chemicals lurking in our products are also hanging around in our pet’s products. Throw the planet a bone and go green!

Candice is an award winning eco-journalist and one of Canada’s leading eco advocates, whose been sharing tips on how to live a more sustainable life for over a decade now. Currently, she calls CTV’s “The Marilyn Denis Show” home. As the resident on-air eco expert (and producer), she provides viewers with the tools they need to live happy, healthy, green lives. Visit for more green living tips.



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