Earth Day week is here, and it’s wonderful to see how much more attention people are paying to environmental issues these days. There are tons of ways that we can reduce the impact we have on our planet, but as a Vet, I’d like to remind you that there’s another reason to go as green as you can: to improve the health of your beloved pets (and yourself too!).
Did you hear about the letter that agri-business lobbyists wrote, complaining about Michelle Obama’s plans to have an “organic garden?” They encouraged her to consider using some “conventional” gardening techniques, including chemical fertilizers and pesticides. (as an aside: I’ve never quite understood why an approach to farming created within the past 150 years is called “conventional,” when you consider the 7-10,000 year history of human agriculture…. Seems like the other 98% of human experience would be more appropriately termed “conventional!”).
But Michelle Obama knows that studies have shown organic foods are substantially higher in vitamins and micronutrients than their chemically plumped “conventional” counterparts. In fact, recent studies at UC Davis indicate that part of the reason for that may be exactly those darned bugs the chemical companies are so keen to eliminate. Turns out that the stress of fighting off pests actually induces the plants to produce more antioxidant metabolites to ward off the bugs. So no pesticides in the White House garden, and a second helping of compost, if you please!
This is an approach we should emulate. It’s springtime, and everyone wants to get out and dig in the garden…. some of us because we want to grow some pretty flowers or veggies, and others of us because we want to bury a tasty bone! There are some important things to consider before we start, to safeguard the health of our pets and the health of our environment.
It makes sense if you think about it —-many of the things that are bad for the environment are bad because they are toxic. And I don’t know about your pets, but mine are quite good at immersing themselves in their environment— they sniff it, they lick it, chew on it, roll around in it…. We go through a lot of Funky Dog Shampoo around here, oh yes indeed! But while the rugs are in constant need of protection, we know the pets are already safe.
In the second part of this post, I’ll talk about some of the hazards commonly found in our yards, and we’ll make sure that your garden is as healthy for your pets to play in as it is for you to eat.
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This post was generously contributed by Dr. Stanley of Housecall Of The Wild.