Non-toxic tips for bringing your pet home and making them feel welcome
Bringing home a new pet is a very exciting! You better be ready for a few rounds of play time and some great cuddles. While you figure out their favorite toy and what that weird noise means, we collected some tips for keeping your new best friend happy and healthy.
Just like you make healthy choices about what you bring into your home so you aren't coming into contact with toxic chemicals when you don't have to, these decisions matter just as much for your pet. A few might even matter for them a bit more.
Why? Well, if different chemicals and things in our home can make us sick, consider how the same amount of those things might affect someone much tinier. Even if you've got a big dog, chances are they don't weigh quite as much as you. And, both dogs and cats spend much more of their time on the floor, where a lot of dust collects. They also are way more likely to lick things than we are, cats especially because they lick themselves to bathe after rolling around on the floor.
With all of these ways that our pets are more likely to encounter different things that might make them sick, we have a few tips for ways to keep your pet, and incidentally yourself, safer.
When it comes to pet toys, there are so many different options, and we are sure your pet will make their preferences known. But, plastic toys that your animals will be putting in their mouth and chewing on aren't the best option. We know what the chemicals can do to various animals and to humans, so why would we want to expose Fido or Mr. Whiskers to them? For dogs, try toys made of rope, natural bones, or rubber for things like frisbees and chew toys. If they like to play with balls, consider ones made of real, natural rubber, or wool. For cats, natural ropes, feathers, and things like felted wool balls are options. Or, if your cat is anything like most cats, they will prefer to play with things like your socks or a toilet paper tube. My cat also thinks sticky notes and tin foil balls are fun, so who knows what your cat will choose.
As we mentioned, pets like to lick things. And they do it a lot. They also tend to roll around on the ground. When it comes to cleaning and products you will use on your floors and around the house, consider non-toxic options. Make sure these are non-toxic for your pet, too. WARNING, this might rule out some types of essential oils. Check out our list of non-toxic cleaning supplies, to help you decide what might be the best option.
If your pets are going to be doing a lot of snuggling with you on the couch or in your bed, we recommend choosing a option that is healthy for both you and them. This typically means looking for items that are flame retardant free. You can learn more about other things to look for in our article about couches or this other one about mattresses. If purchasing new furniture isn't high on your list, vacuuming (with a HEPA filter if you have one) and dusting with a wet microfiber cloth on a regular basis are other good ways to help reduce the amount of these chemicals that can escape from your furniture and get into your household dust, and then into your pet's or your own body. Check out our roundup of HEPA filter vacuums if you are looking to invest in one.
"These chemicals are found at high levels in house dust and toddlers and cats accumulate them at much higher levels than adults due to increased exposure (toddlers placing their hands in their mouths and cats ingesting dust from their coat during grooming)," says Steve Gardner, DVM, DABVP.
Pet beds are also often made of foams that are treated with flame retardants, so even if your furry friend prefers to cuddle up in their own space, look for options that are flame retardant free or don't contain foam.
This one is more about how medicine you choose for your pet can shift from them to you. Most flea and tick medicines that are applied topically to your pet can easily rub off, either onto your hands when you pet them or onto your couch or carpet as they roll around. Learn more about better flea and tick options for your pet in this article that lays out all the alternatives.