Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eco-friendly, healthy, dog-friendly flooring for your dog-loving home!

Flooring and dogs...it's probably one of the biggest questions we get from our readers.
What type of flooring is the best and safest flooring for dogs?
That's a very big, big question. Believe it or not there are lots of options!
Occasional oopsies on the carpet, dents and dings on the wood floors, worries about injuries sliding across slippery floors - it all comes with the territory if you have dogs, big or small.
But those aren't the only concerns. Us dogs spend a lot of time on the floor, we snooze there, we eat there, we play there. So having a green, healthy, eco-friendly floor is very important to our health and well-being.
Here are some things to consider when deciding what type of flooring is best for your dog loving home:
  • Wall-to-wall carpet - In 2008 the Environmental Working Group performed a first-of-its-kind study and discovered family pets in homes across the country could be absorbing industrial chemicals from the carpets and synthetic household materials they spend so much time on. Scientists believe the higher levels are a result of the pets frequent contact with household comforts like wall-to-wall carpeting, some new furniture, and other pretreated, synthetic items, the study said.
  • That beautiful wall-to-wall commercial synthetic carpet that is so nice, soft and clean? It takes a lot of chemicals to keep it looking that way. From the creation of the fibers from petroleum products, to the latex and formaldehyde in the backing, to the 'easy-to-clean' chemical treatments of stain protectants, anti-bacterial and flame retardant (Polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs)) baths - these carpets are a chemical haven.
  • Those nice shiny vinyl floors? They can contain phthalates which are shown in lab studies to disrupt reproductive systems, particularly in male offspring. It also can contribute to respiratory problems in children. Vinyl, also known as polyvinyl chloride or PVC, creates toxic byproducts such as dioxin, a potent carcinogen during production and disposal.
And that's just the beginning...
So, what are some eco-friendly, safe, healthy, dog-friendly options?
Generally speaking, the safest, healthiest and most environmentally sound types of flooring are un­treated hardwoods from recycled or reclaimed wood, true linoleum, ceram­ic or glass tile, marble, stone slate, and resilient cork tiles - all either unfinished or finished with water-based, low-VOC finishes. Or you can look into carpet made of a sustainable untreated fabric, like wool.
Let's take a look at them individually:
Linoleum - Natural linoleum can be made from various combinations of natural materials, including softwood powder or sawdust, linseed oil, pine tree resins, cork, and chalk. Linoleum usually has a jute backing which is a sustainable material.
Carpet - Natural carpets are those made from plants, including grasses and cotton, or other products such as wool. Just make sure they haven't been pretreated with stain resistant and other chemicals, etc.
Wood - Recycled, reclaimed wood is a great choice. Just make sure it's a hard wood to show less wear and tear, and also be sure to refinish the wood floor utilizing a natural oil- or water-based stain and finish, like a good hard wax finish with sunflower, soybean and thistle oil, and a natural waxes like carnauba or candelilla.
Cork - Natural cork is made from the bark of the cork tree. Make sure your source obtains their cork through sustainable forestry practices in their harvesting. The cork oak should be harvested by hand, leaving the tree unaffected by the harvesting process and allowing the cork oak to grow back, leaving the cork oak to live on and on. Cork is naturally durable, yet a soft product, and may not be the best option with dog's nails, unless you like the naturally distressed look.
Bamboo - This can be quite good as bamboo is a rapidly renewing resource that matures in three years, and appears to be very strong if you purchase the strand woven variety. Just do your homework and make sure the source is from a sustainable bamboo forest and that no VOCs are used in the laminate. Also consider the source of the grown bamboo, as it is usually grown in Asia and the carbon footprint of transportation should be a consideration.
Stone - Another good option for dogs is stone. Stone flooring can be yielded from reused and recycled materials, and it can last nearly forever, with little maintenance and care making it one of the greener more dog friendly options. However the carbon footprint of procuring the stone should be considered.
Ceramic Tile - Ceramic tile, particularly tiles made of recycled or reused materials are another option. Again, just take into consideration the weight of the product in transportation and location, and the materials used in sealing and grouting making sure low-VOC finishes are used in installation.
What about adhesives and finishes for installation?
Make sure all finishes for wood, cork, bamboo and more are installed using water- or oil-based finishes and adhesives, as they are the least-toxic alliterative to installation. Look for no-VOC brands or don't use any glue at all, or focus on mechanical fasteners such as tack strips or double-sided tape for carpet when possible, cement mortar instead of glue for tile, or tongue and grove installation for sustainable woods. Good finishes for wood, cork & bamboo are sunflower, soybean and/or thistle oil, and a good natural was like candelilla. They leave a nice strong matte finish that easily repaired if needed.
Here are our top tips for seeking out the safest, greenest floor for you and your dog:
  • Find a green, dog-friendly product that has a natural character, that won't show little dents and dings.
  • Keep your dog's nails trimmed and filed to reduce the amount of markings.
  • If you have a slick floor, be sure and protect your dogs joints and bones by putting down an organic, untreated sustainable fabric rug, so they don't slip and slide through your house incurring potential injury.
  • Select a floor that will last and hold up to the wear and tear of dogs.
  • Clean up messes utilizing non-toxic and non-abrasive solutions that won't harm the finish of your flooring and keep it healthier for you and your dog.
  • If you decide on a flooring with tongue and groove, or a pieced linoleum, make sure to seal the cracks with a good eco-friendly and safe sealer to keep the 'messes' from penetrating to the subfloor.
Happy, healthy living!!!
Resources:
Source for reclaimed wood and other materials.
Online source for sustainable flooring materials.
Research reports from the Environmental Working Group related to pets.
Keeping It Clean - cleaning resources from Raise A Green Dog

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm a Mountain Dog!

When the nice folks at Mountain Dog emailed us and wanted to know if we would be interested in reviewing their "Original Earth-Friendly Dog Leash," how could we say no!!!

We received the leash the other day and have to say it' super cool - we're giving it five paws up! And being a green dog in a green family, I like the eco-friendliness of the Mountain Dog leash.

Not only is it handmade in the USA, but it's also made from post-consumer recycled climbing rope, making it extremely strong and long lasting, and keeps that stuff out of our landfills! And their packaging is all from 100% recycled paper - gotta love that.

But the best part? Mountain Dog has a lifetime 100% money-back guarantee, yep, I said lifetime! You chew it up, they replace it free. But we're betting it's gonna stand up to some of the toughest pups.

We tested it out on our four mile hike the other day and both me, Mum and Gracie loved it. It didn't slip from Mum's hand, which some leashes do. She needs to keep a tight reign on us herding dogs, we get very interested in squirrels during our hikes. It was less likely to twist up with Gracie's leash on our hike. It was very strong and easy to clean.

Head on over to their site and take a look, we know you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Make it a green Halloween for your pups!

Halloween is almost here!

I love Halloween...it's one of my favorite holidays, because we always get to go to the agility Halloween pawty and run some agility!

We thought it would be fun to share some green Halloween ideas for your pup - for the safest, healthiest Halloween ever.

Costumes

Some pups don't like to be dressed up in costumes. I don't mind, because Mum doesn't ever make them so elaborate that I can't move in them. And they just feel a little like wearing one of my winter coats. The cool thing is that when we wear costumes to our agility pawty, we get to run at a discounted cost, so it's worth it. Saving money is one of our things!

So if you're pup doesn't mind wearing a costume here are some ideas for making your own!

We absolutely love this handmade spider costume that Martha Stewart made for her Sharkey. To make it green, use some old black and orange material that you may have lying around from old jeans, t-shirts or coats!

If you'd like to get some more pawsome ideas for pet costumes at MarthaStewart.com, click here! Be creative and have fun finding reusable materials around your home as substitutes for suggested materials. Like this cute costume dress from an old t-shirt and some lace!

Here are a couple of patterns from McCalls that may help give you some sewing help. And for some other pawsome ideas, check out these:

Now for the good stuff, treats!

Here's a great healthy, natural Halloween dog treat you can make for your pup (courtesy of eHow):

Applesauce Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients:

Oven cookie sheet 1½ cups whole wheat flour 3 tbsp. (organic) applesauce 2 eggs 3/4 cup pure pumpkin (not pie filling) 1 tbsp. molasses ¼ cup water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and grease the cookie sheet. 2. Combine all the ingredients in a large-sized bowl, then mix together. The mixed batter should resemble the consistency of cookie dough. 3. Depending on how big you want the cookies to be, use a teaspoon or tablespoon to drop the dough onto the greased cookie sheet. Drop them approximately 1 inch apart. 4. Bake for 14 minutes or until the cookies are firm. 5. For crunchier cookies, turn the oven off and leave the cookies in the oven to cool for one to two hours. This recipe makes approximately two dozen cookies, depending on how big you make them.

If that's not your taste, try these Ginger Spiced Treats and Apple Dog Biscuits!

A dog's gotta have toys!

You can make some pawsome Halloween toys from unused or reused items around your home. Try these!

Pawty time!!

Halloween is a great time to have a dog party, or as I like to bark, dog pawty! So how do you plan a great green dog party? Check out my lens on Throwing a Great Dog Party, and utilize some of the tips you've learned from Raise A Green Dog to make it green!

Some Halloween safety tips!

Halloween is a fun time, but it can also be a scary time for some pups. And dangers lurk in many more places. Heed these safety tips, so you can have the safest, happiest Halloween ever!

1. Some of us pups just don't like to get dressed up, and that's OK!!! Please, only costume a dog that's agreeable, or has been properly introduced to the idea. And make sure the costume is safe. Sometime those weird outfits can get caught and cause choking or even worse, so be safe!

2. Remember, the bowl of candy for those two-legger trick-or-treaters isn't for us pups! Keep the bowl safely away, so we aren't tempted to get into the chocolate, candy with xylitol or other bad for us stuff.

3. All those guests and visitors can sometimes be overwhelming for us dogs. So if your dog isn't used to all the commotion, secure them safely in a quiet room until the trick-or-treating has passed. And if we do like all the visitors, make sure we are leashed up have our tags on our collars, and don't have an opportunity to escape through an open door. Safety first!

4. Some of those decorations can be tempting if we haven't seen them in a year or so. Make sure we stay safe around electrical cords and lights, and other decorations.

Here's to a safe, happy and green Halloween!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall is a great time to care for your green lawn!

Fall is a great time to care for your lawn. Why? It's cooler, there's still a bit of time for growing, and your lawn is preparing itself for the harsh winter and needs some help and protection.

So how do we spiffy up our lawn for Fall and help it get ready for the Winter season for a flourishing lawn in the Spring?

The first thing we do it wait for a nice rainfall, then get out there and pull some weeds that have infested our lawn over the Summer. We'll then mow at a 3" height, because a higher height of grass will help keep those weeds at bay.

We'll wait a day or so and then spray some good organic fertilizer. We like to use a spray fish emulsion because it instantly starts working and there aren't any granules to interest us pups.

Then Mum gets busy using an un-coated grass seed that's right for our climate and overseeds the lawn and spreads some in the bare spots. Then she makes sure the seeds are well watered in. Then, we sit back and wait for the magic to happen :)

Our lawns are one of the places us pups spend the most time. We play out there, we poo out there and we spend lots of time with our pals enjoying the great outdoors.

That's why it's so important to keep it safe, and keep it green in more way than one. Contrary to popular belief and advertising the dangerous lawn chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides that millions of people put on their lawns throughout the year are incredibly harmful to us dogs. Exposure to these chemicals have been linked to cancer in us pups, as well as other major illnesses. And they have harmful effects on the environment, too!

That's why keeping a green, safe and chemical free lawn is so important for pets and people. And it's not difficult to have an amazing lawn the green way. There are some pawsome companies with organic and safe products on the market that will help you have a green, lush, healthy and wonderful lawn without the use of harmful chemicals.

Read more about why having a safe lawn is so important for your pup - from our lawn care blog post talking about the potential dangers of commercial lawn chemicals from last Spring!

And here are some great green and safe lawn resources to help you have a luscious lawn, the green way:

$20 off $40
D/EARTH - diatomaceous earth (12 oz)

D/EARTH - diatomaceous earth (12 oz)

$10.99  $7.99

Store: EntirelyPets

Brand:

Plant Guardian TM Houseplant Insecticidal Soap

Plant Guardian TM Houseplant Insecticidal Soap

$9.95

Store: Gardens Alive!

Brand:

NaturCut Classic HD reel lawn mower

NaturCut Classic HD reel lawn mower

$281.00  $219.00

Store: Garden.com - CLOSED

Brand: People Powered Machines

Espoma Dried Blood 17 Lb

Espoma Dried Blood 17 Lb

$42.99

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Espoma

Espoma Lawn Food 20 Lb

Espoma Lawn Food 20 Lb

$20.99

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Espoma

Espoma Natural Lawn Food

Espoma Natural Lawn Food

$26.99

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Espoma

Espoma Hollytone 8 Lb

Espoma Hollytone 8 Lb

$9.49

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Espoma

Espoma Garden Gypsum 5 Lb

Espoma Garden Gypsum 5 Lb

$6.19

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Espoma

Espoma Bone Meal 24 Lb

Espoma Bone Meal 24 Lb

$30.99

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Espoma

Espoma Kelp Meal

Espoma Kelp Meal

$18.99  $16.14

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Espoma

Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix 8 qt

Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix 8 qt

$17.95

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Wetsel

Espoma Organic Weed Preventer and Lawn Food

Espoma Organic Weed Preventer and Lawn Food

$25.95

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Wetsel

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (de) 50lb. Bag

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (de) 50lb. Bag

$39.95

Store: Sears.com

Brand: Perma-Guard

Lewis Rocket Weeder

Lewis Rocket Weeder

$37.04

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Lewis Tools

Ames 1941600 36-in Long Handled Dandelion Weeder

Ames 1941600 36-in Long Handled Dandelion Weeder

$19.93

Store: Sears.com

Brand: Ames

Radius Garden Weeder

Radius Garden Weeder

$13.95

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Radius Garden

Nrg Pro Weeder

Nrg Pro Weeder

$39.99

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Wetsel

Reel Mower Sharpening Kit

Reel Mower Sharpening Kit

$13.99

Store: Sears.com

Brand:

Fiskars 6208 17-inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower

Fiskars 6208 17-inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower

$338.03

Store: Sears.com

Brand: Fiskars

American Lawn Mower 1204-14 14-inch Deluxe Hand Reel Mower

American Lawn Mower 1204-14 14-inch Deluxe Hand Reel Mower

$145.65

Store: Sears.com

Brand: American Lawn Mower

Villa Rain Barrel Plus 50 Gal Solid Sherwood Green

Villa Rain Barrel Plus 50 Gal Solid Sherwood Green

$124.95

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Desert Plastics Llc

50 Gallon Rain Barrel

50 Gallon Rain Barrel

$89.95

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Suncast Corporation

The Worm Factory Composting System 4 Tray Black

The Worm Factory Composting System 4 Tray Black

$104.95

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Ture's Footprint Inc

Presto Products Gkl0951-6 Geobin Composting System

Presto Products Gkl0951-6 Geobin Composting System

$61.88

Store: Sears.com

Brand: Presto

Organic Lawn Fertilizer 8-3-1 5000 Sq Foot

Organic Lawn Fertilizer 8-3-1 5000 Sq Foot

$31.07

Store: Sears.com

Brand: Jonathan Green Inc

St Gabriel Chemical Milky Spore Lawn Spreader Mix 20 Lb

St Gabriel Chemical Milky Spore Lawn Spreader Mix 20 Lb

$34.96

Store: Sears.com

Brand: St Gabriel Organics

Bradfield Organics 9-0-0 Luscious Lawn Corn Gluten, 40lbs

Bradfield Organics 9-0-0 Luscious Lawn Corn Gluten, 40lbs

$39.99

Store: Sears.com

Brand: Bradfield Organics

Ringer All Natural Lawn Restore Fertilizer 40 lb

Ringer All Natural Lawn Restore Fertilizer 40 lb

$44.99

Store: TABcom - Garden.com

Brand: Woodstream

Friday, September 4, 2009

Saving on that light bill!

Mum is always looking for ways to save on our electric bill and conserve energy. So she thought we should share in some of the responsibilities, and have fun at the same time!

We love learning new tricks. It keeps our minds and bodies active, so we don't 'get into stuff,' if you know what I mean. And we have lots of fun with our Mum, which is the best part.

So, the other day Mum taught Gracie how to turn off the light switch, so she could share in the eco-friendly responsibilities around our house. My sis is taller than I and can reach the switch, otherwise I'd be right in on the game, too.

It's a super easy trick to learn. Mum started with a couple of small pieces of tape on the wall, so Gracie would be interested. Once she was pawing the tape, Mum moved it up the wall until it was over the actual light switch. Very soon Gracie was turning off the light like a pro.

So here's a great trick you and your dog can enjoy, and help you conserve energy and save on your light bill too!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reporting adverse reactions to medications and other chemicals.

With all the reported dangers of over-the-counter flea and tick medications, vaccinations, lawn chemicals and other dangers our dogs come in contact with, we were encourage to see that the American Veterinary Medical Association has a website page that provides a system for reporting adverse events and reactions.

This page provides a means for assistance in reporting to the various agencies that govern the use of, and adverse event associated with, a pesticide (such as a flea and tick product, or lawn chemical), veterinary drug, a vaccine or other biological product, and/or pet food. These agencies include the FDA, the US Department of Agriculture, the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) and/or the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP).

Here's some info from the site:

Adverse events are undesirable effects that occur after the use of a medication, medical device, pesticide, or vaccine or other biological product. They may, or may not, be caused by the product or device. Adverse events are rare and the majority of them are minor, but some can be life-threatening.

Advice for Animal Owners

Although controlled studies are performed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of these products, these studies might not identify small groups of animals at higher risk of experiencing adverse events. Post-marketing monitoring of adverse events provides the government, manufacturers and veterinarians with critical information about the safety and efficacy of products. If adverse events occur, reporting them allows the government, manufacturers and veterinarians to investigate and determine if the product's labeling or use should be changed. Adverse events are rare and the majority of them are minor, but some can be life-threatening.

Your veterinarian may report the adverse event to the appropriate agency and provide the necessary information; if your veterinarian reports the adverse event, you do not need to file a report. If your veterinarian has not reported the adverse event, or if your veterinarian was not involved in the treatment, you may need to report the adverse event. Different government agencies oversee different products, so the reporting process will vary. Regardless of the government agency involved, the manufacturer should be notified of the adverse event.

So many times I have read about adverse reactions to over-the-counter medications for dogs, reactions to pesticides and lawn chemicals, and severe reactions to certain vaccinations. The only way for change to take place is for these reactions to be reported and documented, along with the findings of the wonderful work that several agencies are doing in independently testing many of the prescribed and over-the-counter medications, supposed safe lawn chemicals and more; along with the lobbying they, and many caring individuals, are providing.

Education is key and we believe that the more these events are reported, the more likely the chance that specific action will take place in keep our dogs safer. So please, keep this information handy, report any incidents and spread the word!

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