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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Why Dog People are Naturally Greener


by Lola Michelin

The latest American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) survey on pet ownership trends reports that 74.8 million canines now enjoy camaraderie with at least one special two-legged companion. Although studies regularly document the significant health benefits that dog owners experience from this close animal/human relationship—including better health, companionship, security and emotional release—only recently have we understood more about its environmental impact.

It’s uncertain whether today’s dog guardians are intentionally taking steps to become green consumers or environmental activists. But an increasing number are considering their family’s environmental impact while purchasing more than $40 billion in pet products and services, according to the latest APPMA report. Dog owners, in search of more Earth-friendly versions of everything from organic food and sustainable toys to shampoos, flea treatments and biodegradable waste bags, acknowledge that their loyal, four-legged friends frequently inspire other healthy environmental choices, as well.

Rather than driving to run errands, for example, dog people often take Fido or Fifi on recreational walks to the corner store or post office. Women out and about on their own report they are less likely to take their cars on short trips when they can enjoy the security of walking with a dog. Such auto-free errands help reduce America’s carbon footprint, a key contributor to global warming.

Canines and their human companions also are prompting the creation of environmentally friendly green spaces in urban areas. An increasing number of municipalities, responding to demand from constituents, are developing dog parks. These minimize the need to drive long distances to find open areas to exercise critters, and they add much-needed nature to city settings. Everyone using the park benefits from added opportunities to socialize, exercise and enjoy a natural setting. Everyone in the area reaps the rewards of life-giving plants in place of more concrete and asphalt.

Dogs may even nudge their two-legged kin toward a natural, holistic approach to health and well-being. Canines, like all animals, instinctively seek wellness and balance. When faced with a health challenge, they usually respond positively to improvements in diet and exercise and to alternative healing therapies such as massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy and chiropractic.

People who may have been skeptical about these modalities are often willing to consider them to help a beloved furry friend. These more natural approaches to health rely less upon use of drugs and other synthetic toxins that may harm the body and, via excretion, the environment. Once people witness a pet’s improving health as a result of effective treatment, they often adopt alternative modalities for themselves.

It’s a good feeling to know that the animals who love us so well can also inspire us, as caretakers, to love them, ourselves and our planet well.

Lola Michelin is director of education at the Northwest School of Animal Massage. For more information call 877-836-3703, visit or email [email protected]

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