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5 Tips to Make a Healthy Home For Your Pet

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Even though they’re messy, time-consuming and often a pain, we love our pets through it all. As especially health- and eco-conscious consumers, we know that our pets deserve a safe and healthy home—just like us. Maybe you’ve already started with small things, like feeding your pet organic treats? With just a few more changes you can make your home even healthier for your furry friend. Here are five easy ways.

1. Know which houseplants are toxic

Pets are curious. If they decide one of your houseplants seems interesting, they could accidentally ingest something toxic. Are the plants in your home toxic to pets? It’s actually kind of scary how many common houseplants can hurt our furry friends. Some common ones include aloe vera, begonia, baby’s breath, calla lily, palms, daffodil, geranium, jade, dracaena and tulips. For a more comprehensive list, take a look at this one compiled by the American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

2. Help pets sleep healthier

Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, your pets deserve a nontoxic bed to sleep in. Look for pet beds made with natural fibers like organic cotton, organic hemp or organic wool. These natural fibers will protect your buddies in their most vulnerable moments—just like your organic cotton sheets keep you from breathing in off-gassed chemicals while you sleep.

3. Run a better bath

Just like you’ve greened your personal care products, it’s time to do the same for Fido and Fluffy. Get that mangy mutt clean with shampoo and conditioners that are free of sulfates, parabens, artificial colors and synthetic fragrances. Look for products at your local health food store that contain naturally antimicrobial essential oils (to get rid of bacteria and odor) like tea tree, rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint. John Masters Organics offers a natural pet shampoo and conditioner with eucalyptus and citronella essential oils. Look for other natural brands at your local health food store.

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From the Organic Authority Files

4. Avoid hazardous chemicals

Your pets spend a lot of time on the floor. Sniffing, rolling around, playing, sleeping. Curious cats might explore cupboards and cabinets that hold cleaning supplies. If you use conventional cleaning products to mop your floors, dust and just generally clean, you could be exposing your pets—and yourself—to hazardous chemicals.

Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that are toxic for both you and your pets. Watch out for bleach, ammonia, chlorine, glycol ethers and formaldehyde. These ingredients can cause health problems in adults and children, but young kids and pets are particularly at risk for cancer, anemia, liver and kidney damage when exposed to products with these ingredients. Avoid using them altogether, as pets can still be exposed to the vapors leftover from them after cleaning. Choose green or homemade cleaning products instead.

5. Feed your pet right

You know your furry pals need more than treats to stay healthy—they need the right pet food. (That doesn’t include high-calorie table scraps. Resist the cute puppy eyes.) As with our food, words listed on pet food packaging such as “senior”, “premium”, “super-premium”, “gourmet” and “natural” don’t mean anything. Look at the ingredients to determine how healthy the food is for your pet.

Many conventional pet foods contain mostly high-glycemic filler ingredients that don’t do your pets a lot of good. These include ingredients such as corn, wheat, soy, tapioca, potato starch and rice. If any of these ingredients are the first three listed on the food’s label, put it back. The first three ingredients listed on a pet food label make up the majority of the food. Instead, look for foods that contain mostly meat in the top ingredients and then fruits and vegetables. Also, be sure to avoid pet foods with synthetic preservatives, such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and ethoxyquin. Look for healthy pet food brands at your local health food store.

Follow Kirsten on Twitter @kirsten_hudson, Google+ and Pinterest.

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