Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet?

December 20, 2018 by  
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Does your pup hover at your feet when the smell of bacon or steak wafts in his direction? It’s no surprise, considering the ingredients dogs are used to receiving and the evolution of the species. Every bag of food at the pet store promotes meat as its main ingredient. From chicken to lamb to bison, meat reigns supreme in the pet food world. Now it is coming to light that maybe it would benefit the planet and our pets if we moved to vegan food to fulfill their dietary needs. But is a plant-based diet both good for your pup and our Earth? Many companies are jumping into the plant-based pet food market. Celebrities are shining a light on the irony of providing shelter for animals and then feeding them animal-based foods. More and more people are beginning to question whether feeding meat-based foods is an unnecessary form of animal cannibalism. Does it make sense to rescue animals like rabbits in one effort and then raise them for slaughter in another? Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for pets A potential issue with meat-based pet food is the consumption of meat in a world already stressed by the burdens that cattle and other livestock industries contribute to the planet. When you consider that animals drink water and also consume foods that require water to grow, the effects are staggering, and it explains why many vegans have chosen a meat-free diet. In addition to gouging water resources, animal production requires massive amounts of land. Opponents of the meat industry argue that all forms of fruits and vegetables produce more consumable food per acre and use significantly fewer resources. Some estimates report that eliminating meat from the pet food market could reduce the environmental impact by over 25 percent. Of course, there is also the ethical component in the mix. Ask any PETA member and they will scream out that raising animals entirely for the purpose of butcher is inhumane. Plus, there are well-documented issues about how these animals are treated during their short life cycles with little room to move, limited access to the outdoors and an inability to follow their instincts. Related: This sustainable dog house has a green roof and solar-powered fan to keep cool Many animals are already vegan . Think cows, hamsters and elephants, for starters. So we know that humans and some animals can survive without meat. But does that apply to our domestic friends, too? The question has been asked, “Is it healthy for animals to go vegan?” This is where science and veterinarians weigh in. In short, the answer is yes, cats and dogs can be perfectly healthy eating a vegan diet. Like humans, the key is acquiring the right nutritional balance. We associate meat with protein , but vegetables can fill that requirement just as well in many ways. There are exceptions, however. For example, some vets argue that cats and dogs do not absorb vitamin D from the sun and need to get it from their food. Specifically, dogs and humans can absorb D2 from foods, but cats need D3, only available in animal proteins. An inadequately balanced diet can result in a deficiency of minerals, nutrients, vitamins, amino proteins (especially taurine) and essential fatty acids. A shortage of these dietary needs can lead to irreversible medical issues. As the premium pet food market explodes, manufacturers are finding ways to make sure that food meets the nutritional needs of our pets. That means that many products spend time in a lab before being added to food. This food technology is not new. Scientists have worked toward meat substitutes in our food markets for many years. The advantage of transferring this technology over to animal products is that the consumer is a whole lot less picky. Where humans require a smell and texture similar to the meat variety, pets don’t care about tactile pleasure. That means that pet food produced with the help of a lab is faster and less expensive to make. It also means that scientists can carefully balance the nutrients in the food, even if the ingredients don’t provide them upfront. The bottom line is that pets need specific nutrients, regardless of what form they come in. These needs are well-backed by science, so everyone can agree that if the nutritional profile is being met, then it’s absolutely healthy for your pet to sustain a vegan-based diet. The problem is getting a guarantee that your pet food selection in fact meets those needs. Pet owners should not make the decision lightly. After all, modern day pets are members of the family, and we want to provide them the best care we can. When considering the switch to vegan pet food, there are several things to keep in mind. Make sure the food has been thoroughly tested through trials and has met the requirement outlined by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). Discuss the switch with your veterinarian; not only are they trained in animal diets, but they’ve seen the results of a poor diet and can guide you toward the best combination for your pet. Get a preliminary or baseline blood test for your pet, and take them back in for another test after six months. Never feed a vegan diet to puppies or kittens, or any animal that you plan to breed, as these groups have additional nutritional needs. While many see this as an opportunity to significantly reduce the carbon footprint from meat production and offer an alternative to the use of animals in animal food, others maintain the believe that there is no substitute for the real thing. Either way, the market is providing options for consumers on both sides of the aisle. Via Popular Science Images via Ish Ka , Mimzy and Shutterstock

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Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet?

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for pets

December 13, 2018 by  
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Our pets are our best friends … our family. That’s why it is important to spoil your animals with eco-friendly gifts that will make them and the planet happy. From chew toys made from sustainable hemp and wool to collars made of recycled plastic, here our some of our favorite holiday gifts for pets. Chew toys Whether your dog likes to snuggle with its chew toys or is a tough chewer who rips everything to shreds, these toys will make Fido the happiest pup on the planet. Each option is handmade in the U.S. from sustainable hemp canvas and eco-felt wool. They are durable enough to withstand extra-tough dogs, and they can also hold up to a washing machine. Pet beds Whether you have cats, dogs or both, all your furry friends will love the Snuggle Bed , a cozy sleeping space that can transform into many bed types to suit your pet’s preferences. This particular bed is OEKO-TEX certified; the company’s pet beds are also made from 100 percent recycled materials . Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family Cat trees Cats love climbing, scratching and — above all else — resting in baskets. Let your cat do all three with this cat tree , which features a carpeted base, a dangling ball for play, a scratch post and a basket-like sphere made from  banana leaf material . Best of all, this tree will fit right in with your home’s beautiful furniture. Aquariums If you keep fish as pets, make their home the best is can be with an eco-friendly aquarium. This specific tank uses fish waste to fertilize herbs growing atop the tank; the plants in turn clean the water for the fish . Related: How to make your own eco-friendly aquarium accessories Collars and leashes Adorn your lovable pets in nature-inspired collars and leashes made from recycled plastic bottles. For added style, this version mimics the “distinctive look and feel of a classic polo shirt,” making your pet cooler and classier than you. Images via  Rhaúl V. Alva , Honest Pet Products , Pet Play , Wayfair , Back to the Roots  and Lupine Pet

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for pets

Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

April 24, 2018 by  
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Maryland just became the second state in America to ban pet stores from selling puppies and kittens. Animal rights advocates say the move will help cut demand for animals from puppy mills . The bill, HB 1662 , also encourages pet stores to work with rescue groups and animal shelters to promote the adoption of homeless animals, according to The Humane Society . Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan signed the legislation into law with bipartisan support. The state already has regulations in place requiring stores to reveal breeder information, and stores cannot use breeders that the United States Department of Agriculture has cited in the last two years. But delegate Benjamin Kramer, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told The Washington Post the regulations aren’t enough to protect animals. Related: California bans puppy mills and requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals Pet store owners fought against the law, hoping Hogan would veto it. Just Puppies co-owner Jeanea Thomson said her store doesn’t want animals from puppy mills, and that she and her husband visit their breeders, most in Iowa and Missouri, to vouch for conditions. But Kramer said the farms that store owners describe are abominations, telling The Washington Post, “There is not a single one that is this righteous, beautiful, loving, caring facility where there is room for puppies to roam and for breeding dogs to play.” Humane Society Maryland state director Emily Hovermale described the ban as a lifesaving measure that would close the state’s pet store market to puppy mills. She said, “Maryland has set an important precedent with this rejection of animal abuse that other states will surely follow.” Emily McCobb, a professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said a ban could result in a dog shortage, and people might not be sure where to go to get a pet. “There’s a lot of messaging around ‘adopt, don’t shop,’” she said. “But we haven’t done a good job of messaging about how to find responsible breeders.” The law will fully go into effect in 2020. It follows a bill passed in California last year that requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals. + The Humane Society Via The Washington Post Images via Depositphotos and Lydia Torrey on Unsplash

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Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

Chernobyl’s abandoned dogs create their own exclusion zone community

February 6, 2018 by  
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If you ever happen to visit Chernobyl , you might run across one of the around 300 stray dogs that reside there. After the 1986 disaster, residents weren’t allowed to bring their pets away with them, and many dogs were left behind. Today, their descendants still roam the area, and while their life isn’t easy, The Guardian reports they are “a playful example of global kindness and cooperation.” Around 300 stray dogs reside in the 2,600 square kilometer – or around 1,004 square mile – exclusion zone at Chernobyl in Ukraine . The Chernobyl Prayer, an oral history of the time, talks about “dogs howling, trying to get on the buses. Mongrels, alsatians. The soldiers were pushing them out again, kicking them. They ran after the buses for ages.” Soldiers went in to shoot the abandoned animals ; The Guardian reports some heartbroken families pinned notes on their doors asking the squads not to kill their pets. Related: China is building a giant solar plant at Chernobyl Some dogs did survive, and it’s their descendants who live there today. Their lives are short and hard – with “increased levels of radiation in their fur” and a diminished life expectancy. Many of the animals don’t live past six years old, according to The Guardian. But here’s where the hope comes in: guards have created small huts for dogs residing near checkpoints. United States nonprofit organization Clean Futures Fund put up three veterinary clinics nearby – one is inside the plant. They’re vaccinating and neutering the dogs, and handle emergencies. You can read more about their work and donate here . Chernobyl tour company Solo East Travel guide Nadezhda Starodub told The Guardian visitors love the animals, and she does, too. There are no rules against touching them, and she just asks visitors to use the same common sense they would around strays. The dogs have come to serve as unofficial Chernobyl mascots. Via The Guardian Images courtesy of Solo East Travel

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Chernobyl’s abandoned dogs create their own exclusion zone community

An enormous amount of mercury is buried beneath the melting Arctic permafrost

February 6, 2018 by  
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Scientists have learned that a massive amount of mercury is currently encased within the Arctic permafrost — which could have significant ramifications for ecological and human health beyond the far North. “This discovery is a game-changer,” Paul Schuster, study lead author and hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Boulder  told AGU . “We’ve quantified a pool of mercury that had not been done previously, and the results have profound implications for better understanding the global mercury cycle.” Of particular concern is the permafrost -enclosed mercury’s relationship to a warming climate. Schuster said, “There would be no environmental problem if everything remained frozen, but we know the Earth is getting warmer.” In a study published in  Geophysical Research Letters , a journal of the American Geophysical Union , scientists recorded mercury concentrations within permafrost cores in Alaska and extrapolated how much of it is estimated to have been trapped in northern permafrost since the last Ice Age. The researchers found that permafrost soils of the north contain the largest store of mercury on the planet, nearly twice as much as all other soils, the ocean, and the atmosphere combined. The mercury originally became trapped within the permafrost when atmospheric mercury bonded to organic material in the soil, then became frozen, stuck until melting. Related: Scientists puzzle over mysterious disappearance of mercury from Utah’s Great Salt Lake The release of large quantities of the element, which can negatively impact the reproductive and neurological health of animals , becomes more likely as the permafrost thaws. One concern is that it could contaminate waterways, where it could be absorbed by microorganisms and converted into methylmercury, a dangerously toxic form. While such a massive surge of mercury could affect ecosystems far south of the Arctic, its effects would be felt acutely by local communities. “Rural communities in Alaska and other northern areas have a subsistence lifestyle, making them vulnerable to methylmercury contaminating their food supply,” Edda Mutter, science director for the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, told AGU . “Food sources are important to the spiritual and cultural health of the natives, so this study has major health and economic implications for this region of the world.” To better understand the risks, the research team plans to produce another study that models the potential impact of the mercury’s release on the global mercury cycle and ecological health. Via AGU Images via  Schuster et al./GRL/AGU and Depositphotos

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An enormous amount of mercury is buried beneath the melting Arctic permafrost

IKEA is offering furniture for pets – and it’s adorable

October 10, 2017 by  
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It’s here – the modern, inexpensive pet furniture of your dreams. IKEA is now selling furniture and accessories for dogs and cats , and they’re just as well-designed and affordable as the company’s furniture for humans. From a cute cat house to a cozy dog bed, you’ll drool over the Swedish giant’s pet collection . Pets are members of the family to many people, and IKEA said they were inspired by that sentiment to create the LURVIG – Swedish for ‘hairy’ – line of pet furniture. They got a little input from veterinarians to design their pet collection “so you and your pet can enjoy your home together.” LURVIG “covers all the bases of our shared life with pets indoors and out.” Related: Light-filled home for book lovers and their cute cats is built of recycled materials Pets can snuggle in on IKEA’s $49.99 pet bed , which looks like a mini couch for a cat or dog. There’s a $19.99 pet blanket , to minimize fur on the couch or car seat. The most expensive item in the new collection is a $54.98 cat house on legs that comes with a pad inside. A cheaper $5.99 cat house can even be incorporated with human furniture – it fits inside the open squares of a KALLAX shelf unit. There are also several inexpensive accessories that would be ideal for someone getting their first pet, including food and water bowls ranging from $0.79 to $4.99 and a $7.99 water dispenser. There’s a $4.99 litter tray, and $3.99 brush. IKEA is also offering several different dog leashes, with reflective, retractable, and anti-shock options – and even a cat leash if you have aspirations of grandeur. An IKEA spokesperson told Mashable the LURVIG collection had its pilot launch the beginning of October in five countries: the United States, Canada, France, Japan, and Portugal. You can check out the entire collection here . + IKEA Pets Via Mashable Images via IKEA

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IKEA is offering furniture for pets – and it’s adorable

Biodegradable PawPods: a better way to bury your pet

June 26, 2017 by  
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Burying a beloved pet is never easy. But PawPods offers a thoughtful, biodegradable option for burying deceased animals with their bamboo and rice husk pods. Similar to eco burials for humans, PawPods allow pets to return to the earth with dignity. PawPods CEO Ben Riggan had a terrible experience after he had to put down a cherished dog. His pet was given back to him in what he called a glorified plastic bag, and Riggan said the experience bothered him and he couldn’t let go of it. He was determined to create an alternative so others wouldn’t have to experience what he did. On his website he said, “I decided to create a company to provide a better way for pets to come home, whether they will be buried or cremated.” Related: Space Burial Service Will Launch Your Pet’s Remains into Outer Space The result was PawPods. These pet caskets are made of bamboo powder, corn starch, and rice husks, and will fully break down in three to five years. They’re sturdy – Riggan said he didn’t want to offer flimsy paper caskets like others on the market. PawPods are also designed to be painted and decorated so families can grieve through art, and have a therapeutic experience as they say goodbye. PawPods offers several different sizes, from a $9.99 fish pod to a $149.99 large pod designed for medium dogs or large cats . The products have a seeded wildflower leaf on them so a pet grave can be adorned with color in the spring. They also come with a sympathy card. The company also offers two $39.99 urns – a heart-shaped one and traditional one. The urns are designed to hold ashes and will biodegrade as the pods do or can be displayed. These come with a seeded sympathy card that can be buried in place of an urn if the family wishes. + PawPods Via TreeHugger Images via PawPods Facebook

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Biodegradable PawPods: a better way to bury your pet

JFK Airport is opening a $65 million pet terminal

February 20, 2017 by  
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Traveling with pets just got a little bit easier for anyone passing through New York’s John F. Kennedy airport . The airport just gave us a first look at The ARK – a $65-million terminal for animals complete with a “Pet Oasis.” The facility will educate pet owners on any flight requirements before takeoff, provide food and water for flights, receive incoming pets and help board others on their outgoing flights, and even microchip animals who need it. Soon, the ARK plans to provide even more services. Phase 2, to be launched sometime in Q2 2017, will see the opening of the ARK Import-Export Center, with facilities for horses and an aviary. By summer, the terminal should be fully operational with a pet boarding facility, a grooming service, a veterinary clinic and a blood laboratory all open for business. Related: Man Tries to Smuggle Turtle Disguised as Hamburger Through Airport Security The ARK will be open 24-hours a day, and it will serve as a central resource for all airlines making stops at JFK. John J. Cuticelli, the CEO of ARK Development, said in a press release , “Transporting live cargo by plane can be a complex and arduous process for owners and animals alike. Our goal is to create a more efficient and safe process by reducing the need for additional travel and offering trained animal care staff immediately pre- and post-flight. The ARK provides a healthy and comfortable environment, and sets new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services.” + The ARK at JFK

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JFK Airport is opening a $65 million pet terminal

London is charging old, polluting vehicles a 10 fine to drive in the city

February 20, 2017 by  
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A new law will charge old, polluting cars a £10 fee to drive in central London. London’s mayor Sadiq Khan said that the “T-charge” will help quell the massive amounts of pollution in the central city. The fee targets vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 standards, and it is expected to affect about 10,000 vehicles every week. “It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems,” Khan told The Guardian . “If we don’t make drastic changes now we won’t be protecting the health of our families in the future. That is why today, on the 14th anniversary of the start of the congestion charge, I’ve confirmed we are pressing ahead with the toughest emission standard of any major city, coming to our streets from 23 October.” Related: London breaks legal limits on air pollution in just five days in 2017 Most of the vehicles affected by the T-charge are petroleum-fueled cars and trucks made before 2006. The new law will kick into action on October 23, 2017 and the city is launching an online service that will tell Londoners if their vehicle is affected. The fee will be in addition to London’s Congestion Charge , and a £11.50 daily charge for driving any vehicle within a certain area of the city during specified times on weekdays. That means a potential cost of £21.50 to some drivers who want to bring their vehicles into the city. If this seems extreme, keep in mind that the Lambeth’s Brixton Road area broke annual air pollution limits over the course of just five days in January of 2017. Diesel vehicles are seen as the single biggest source of the city’s air pollution. Via The Guardian Images via David Holt , Flickr Creative Commons

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London is charging old, polluting vehicles a 10 fine to drive in the city

This modular cardboard cat house is the ultimate play space for kitty

April 12, 2016 by  
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Looking for a way to keep your cat occupied (a.k.a away from your couch arms)? Behold, the BOX KITTY , a modular transforming cat house that lets you design a castle for your cat. Made with a strong, chemical-free and recyclable cardboard , each segment attaches with removable tabs allowing for endless designs in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Great for crawling, hopping, and napping, this easy-to-construct play space gives kitty (or multiple kitties) a much needed place to exercise and call their own. We could see something like this being especially ‘purrrfect’ for anyone without access to outdoor space. The BOX KITTY is now crowd-funding on Indiegogo . + BOX KITTY

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This modular cardboard cat house is the ultimate play space for kitty

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