What makes pet products eco-friendly and pet-safe?

Explore the characteristics that make a product both eco-friendly and pet safe!

4th July 2024

Pets are part of our families, which means we only want the best for them. However, it can be tough to know what pet products will benefit our pets and the environment. 

Our ‘Tails’ of UK Wildlife campaign illustrates how even the tiniest step can have a big impact on the path towards a nature-friendly future. Since we, as pet parents, frequently buy products for our best fur-iends, making the switch to eco-friendly is a wonderful way to support nature and wildlife!

To help you tell the difference between standard products and those that are good for nature, here’s what you should expect to find when purchasing eco-friendly pet products: 

All-natural materials

Check the pet products you’re buying for your canine companion or feline friend are made from all-natural materials. 

But why does it matter that pet products are made with all-natural materials? Well, our pets interact with products, like toys, every day. So, when those products are mass-produced using cheap materials, that may not have even been quality tested, we’re putting our pets’ health at risk. 

The benefits of all-natural materials are that they tend to be sustainable, meaning they’re easily reproduced, and non-toxic, to protect your companion from suffering toxic ingestion.

Examples of natural, pet-safe materials include:

  • Organic cotton.
  • Natural rubber.
  • Bamboo.
  • Hemp.
  • Jute.

Important: Even if a pet toy is made from all-natural materials, you’ll still need to supervise your pet while they’re playing, to ensure they don’t swallow pieces of their toys. 

Free from harmful chemicals

Along with toxic dyes and damaging plastics, there could be a whole range of potentially harmful chemicals lurking within the products we buy for our pets. So, it’s important to avoid pet products containing:

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride), because it contains toxic chemical additives to make it softer and flexible (e.g. phthalates).
  • Phthalates, because these chemicals are known to leach out of pet toys over time and cause organ damage.
  • BPA (bisphenol A), because it’s a chemical that’s been linked to the disruption of hormones.
  • Lead, because this toxic heavy metal causes poisoning and is used in lots of products (like cheaply produced tennis balls).
  • Melamine, because it might cause kidney failure when ingested. 
  • Cadmium, because this metal is found in low-cost pet toys and could cause cancer. 
  • Formaldehyde, because including this chemical in pet toy adhesives may result in irritated skin, breathing problems, and digestive issues.
  • Bromine, because high levels of this chlorine alternative could cause urinary problems and issues with digestion.
  • Rawhide, because chemicals used throughout the process of creating this product are extremely harmful to pets (e.g. bleach, hydrogen peroxide, arsenic, formaldehyde, glue, synthetic flavourings, etc.). 
  • Arsenic, because it can be found in squashy pet toys that often contain foam. 

Top tip: If a product has an unpleasant and/or chemical scent, it’s unlikely to be safe for pets!

Pet-safe products should be labelled as:

  • Cruelty-free.
  • Plastic-free.
  • PVC-free.
  • Phthalate-free.
  • BPA-free.
  • Lead-free.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Sustainably sourced.

Remember: You can contact the company or manufacturer if you want to know more about the materials used to make their pet products. 

Environmentally friendly packaging

It’s essential to keep products, like pet food, safely packaged during transit and storage. But, due to the significant environmental damage caused by materials such as single-use plastics, pet companies are now starting to seek alternative packaging for their products.

Instead of opting for single-use plastics, which get thrown away and end up on landfill (or worse, as litter that could harm wildlife), many pet companies use packaging that is:

  • Biodegradable – some packaging can be recycled locally or composted, if made from a mix of paper-based (FSC-certified) and bio-sourced (vegetable-based) materials.
  • Compostable – some pet food is available in fibre trays that can be put onto your compost heap once they’ve been emptied.
  • Recyclable – some pet products are available in previously recycled materials that can be recycled again and again!

Companies with nature-friendly policies

In an effort to consider their impact on nature, many companies that produce pet products are working hard to make their manufacturing and distribution processes kinder to the environment.

When researching pet products for your dog and/or cat, look out for companies that show they are, or they’re dedicated to becoming, zero waste and/or carbon neutral. Additionally, supporting companies who are as passionate about nature-friendly activities as they are about pets is a great place to start.

So, choosing to buy your pet’s products from companies who are dedicated to caring for the environment is a fantastic step towards eco-friendly pet parenting!

Cruelty-free production

All animals are part of nature, which is why it’s worth checking that the company manufacturing your pet’s products doesn’t test on animals. When you see the terms ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ on pet products, however, their meaning isn’t always clear. Here’s a brief explanation for each term:

Cruelty-free – means the product hasn’t been tested on animals; most cruelty-free products are clearly labelled as such.

Vegan – describes a product that doesn’t contain animal-derived ingredients (e.g. lanolin from sheep).

Are you keen to ‘go green’ in other ways? If so, we recommend checking out our articles on dog poo etiquette and simple swaps you can make at home to help the environment.

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Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
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