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How do you define 'natural' pet products?

Published On: May 16 2014 03:11:32 PM CDT
Updated On: May 16 2014 03:12:24 PM CDT
Cat outside_cropped

iStock/DeanDrobot

(NewsUSA) - It's safe to say neither cats nor dogs give one whisker about whether the products they use are eco-friendly. Yet more pet owners do -- and the pet industry is responding.

The exploding popularity of sustainable living has manifested itself in an increasing number of products being marketed as eco-friendly options for earth-conscious owners of all types of pets. Walk down the aisle of your local grocery store, and you'll see countless bags and boxes whose now-leafy labels boast "green," "natural," or "organic" claims.

However, the definition of "green" remains the subject of much debate. Look no further then cat litter for an example of how the "natural" line is blurred: Clay -- the main ingredient in a large majority of litters -- is often touted as being "natural," but it requires strip-mining and can contain silica dust that carries the potential of damaging the lungs of people and pets. In fact, most cat litters are made out of minerals that can technically be described as "natural," but that doesn't necessarily mean they are sustainable, biodegradable or healthy if ingested or inhaled.

The question you must ask yourself, as a pet owner, is whether the products you choose actually live up to their eco-friendly billing or whether they are using "green-washing" -- a term used to describe how companies use marketing gimmicks to make their product only seem more natural.