Do you have a pet? If so, you are in good company! 68% of US households are pet owners, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). The majority own cats or dogs. Or both!
Cats and dogs become members of the family involved in our daily activities. Because of this connection, Americans willingly spent $69.5 billion on pet products in 2017. Beyond food and vet costs, some owners indulge their pets with clothing, parties, and pampering. Many owners do not go to these extremes but do often buy toys for their furry friends.
Dog and Cat Toys
Pet stores and supermarkets devote entire aisles to cat and dog toys. I love meandering through these aisles in search of a special treat for my own pets. There are toys in every imaginable shape, from vegetables to superheroes to animals.
Susan R. Stoltz, at Life with Dogs, points out one common denominator in these overflowing shelves. The toys are all plastic and are packaged in an additional layer of plastic. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize the rows of toys at your nearest pet store. She’s right!
Pam Wheelock is the owner of Purrfectplay, a company that offers safe toys for cats and dogs. She began making toys for her own pets as she learned about unsafe dyes and materials used in traditional toys. She was determined to avoid plastics and use safe alternatives.
Eventually, Pam decided to sell her line of toys and gift, as other pet owners were looking for natural options. Her products use only organic fibers, like hemp and wool. Their lineup includes tug toys, balls, collars, and leashes for dogs. The wool balls, jingle toys, or catnip treats will make your kitten happy and active for hours.
The entire line of toys has a noticeably different look, which requires a mind shift on our part. These are not disposable toys made in China, nor are they brightly colored. Your pets will notice how fun the toys are, not the color.
Purrfectplay offers high-quality, durable toys that will last and keep your pet healthy. Purrfectplay products are proudly made in Indiana, and 5% of every sale is donated to no-kill shelters and rescues. They are another all-American company that we are proud to highlight.
Plastic Storage Bins
Another area where plastic becomes a concern is pet food. Many of us empty bags or boxes of kibble into storage bins. What are they made of? Yup, plastic. We do this to maintain the food’s freshness, but could we harm our pets by doing this?
Plastics contain a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA). Studies have found BPA to be an endocrine disruptor, which interrupts the body’s hormone production. Other studies connect BPA to other health concerns such as diabetes and heart disease. When food is stored or packaged in plastic, the chemicals can seep into the food.
If we switch back to our pets, think about the number of plastic toys, bowls, and other accessories that available. Our fur babies are chewing directly on many such items. I have stored both cat and dog food in plastic bins for years. It is scary to think about the amount of food I have dished out that may have been contaminated.
Wait a minute. We have all seen packages labeled BPA-free, so why are we still worried about plastics?
Digging into that topic gets confusing! As manufacturers made additional materials that didn’t contain BPA, a new crop of plastics appeared. Some of these are quite like the old plastic and cause similar side effects.
The formulas for making these different materials contain many of the same ingredients, so side effects would make sense. This means BPA-free items and containers may not be safe.
Steps to take
- Take your pet’s food out of its storage box. Thomaston Feed recommends keeping the food in its original bag.
- If your pet’s food and water bowls are plastic, switch to stainless steel or ceramic. There are many affordable options in stores and online. I used stainless with my dog and was impressed with how easy they were to clean.
- Start swapping out your pets’ toys for greener options. If you are like me, you have dozens of toys at home. It can be costly to buy new ones in one swoop. Begin replacing them one or two at a time.
- Support companies that create products in America. Even if you aren’t a pet owner, check out the delightful gifts Pam offers in her store. Check your community for local artists or farm stands and then commit to purchasing from them.
- Read guides online about additional ways to “green” up your home. Start with this one by Mighty Nest, which gives tips for safe kitchen supplies.
Eliminating plastic when possible could prevent future health concerns for you and for your fur babies. Using natural, organic cotton and wool toys is one small way to protect their lives and health. Remember, your pet depends on you to care for them.