THE BLOG
07/19/2016 02:04 pm ET Updated Jul 20, 2017

10 Ways To Go Green With Your Pet

1. Prevent Unplanned Litters

Pet overpopulation is a serious problem, which I witnessed firsthand while working at a kill shelter from junior high through vet school. About 1.5 million animals are killed in shelters each year in the U.S., and you certainly don't want to add to that number by dropping off an unplanned litter.

Many veterinarians will recommend that you desex (spay or neuter) your pet as a solution (and many shelters require it for adoption). However, I believe de-sexing pets in this way may lead to endocrine imbalances and related diseases. An ovary-sparing spay or vasectomy will accomplish the goal of sterilization and prevent unwanted pregnancies while preserving your pet's endocrine health.

2. Buy in Bulk When Possible

Although I don't recommend stocking up on giant bags of dry pet food, I do recommend stocking up on other bulk products when possible. This helps cut down on packaging and trips to the store. You may be able to find raw food available in larger packages (which store easily in the freezer). Kitty litter is another good product to buy in bulk. Buying from local food co-ops is another great way to save money.

3. Compost Your Dog's Waste

It's important to pick up after your dog, as dog waste left in the environment can pollute ground and surface water and transmit parasites and infectious disease. Unbeknownst to many, you can actually compost dog poop rather than throwing it in the trash. When composted correctly, composting destroys pathogens and produces compost that can improve the soil in your garden.

Dog waste compost should not be used on vegetables or other crops you plan to eat, but it can be used just about anywhere else.

4. Choose Reusable Supplies

Reusable items can keep countless pounds of waste out of landfills each year. For instance, if you use puppy pads, choose machine-washable versions instead of disposable. When choosing a collar and leash, look for those made from sustainable organic fibers, like hemp.

5. Recycle as Much as Possible

Pet food cans are usually recyclable and so are many types of plastic containers. You can also look for pet supplies sold in recyclable bags or those made from recycled materials.

6. Use Compostable Poop Bags

If you're not composting your dog waste, then choose compostable poop bags in lieu of the plastic versions. There are even flushable, compostable bags available, and these may present one of the best solutions of all. Alternatively, you could use a reusable metal "pooper scooper" to scoop poop in your backyard and then flush it down the toilet.

7. Make Your Own Pet Toys

Many items around your home can be used to make DIY pet toys. Your dog might like to chew on a plastic water bottle wrapped in a t-shirt or sock. Or try placing a few treats inside a gallon milk jug and watch your dog figure out how to get them out (supervised, of course, and not for heavy chewers that might chew through the plastic).

Cats may be entertained with cardboard toilet paper rolls, a crumpled ball of paper, a pen, a ping pong ball, gift bows, the plastic ring from a milk jug, and, of course, empty paper bags or cardboard boxes.

8. Choose Environmentally Friendly Cat Litter

The popular clay-based litters may be made from bentonite clay sourced from destructive strip mines. You can, instead, opt for litters made from corn (even GMO-free corn), renewable wheat crops, wood shavings or recycled newspaper.

You can even use sawdust for litter. Your cat may ultimately dictate which litter option you stick with. I've found that many cats prefer unscented clumping litter with no odor control additives.

9. Take Advantage of Cuddles in the Winter

When the temperatures dip, you may be able to turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees and cuddle up with your pet for warmth instead.

10. Adopt a Pet from a Shelter

Giving a home to a homeless dog or cat is the "greenest" way to find a new pet. You'll be saving a life and freeing up a space for another needy dog or cat to find a home.

Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at: MercolaHealthyPets.com

Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.

By reading Dr. Becker's information, you'll learn how to make impactful, consistent lifestyle choices to improve your pet's quality of life.

For more by Dr. Karen Becker, click here