It was great to read about people across Tampa Bay who are adding eco-friendly pet ownership to their green lifestyles with the help of businesses that not only help keep Fido's health in check, but the planet's as well.
"Nothing we use has more than six ingredients," says Stefan Hoffmeister, owner of the Salty Do-It-Yourself Pet Wash and Groom in St. Petersburg. "We keep it simple and we're a 100 percent locally sustained business. Everything we sell, everything we use, is from St. Pete."
Among those products is a shampoo with a base from Sister Agnes Milagros soap company, known for making all-natural human soaps for 16 years in downtown St. Petersburg.
"People that have dogs with skin problems tend to like it because it's very gentle and mild," said Milagros owner Teresa Ross. "It's made with essential oils that are natural tick repellents, so people like that, plus it smells really, really good."
Hoffmeister and Milagros are among several businesses in the area that champion a green business model for dog owners. At the Humane Society of Tampa Bay in Dunedin, a recently opened dog grooming area has a no-waste and all-natural-products policy. People can bring their pets to get pampered, and the dirty water that washes out from the baths is reused for landscaping in the five acres the shelter owns for rescuing and holding abandoned pets.
"This project is twofold," said Twila Cole, director of development for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. "One, to help create another stream of revenue and two, to provide a kind service. Everything needs to be as green as possible these days, and the best we can do, we will."
In Tampa, the Dashing Pooch also opts for eco-friendly products, even if it adds cost to the overhead.
"Our waste bags are biodegradable, our toys are made from recycled materials," said owner Lois Waite. "Products are more expensive, but in the long run it's better."
And if pups want a snack at Waite's business, it will be an organic one, provided by 2 Girls and a Beagle, a Lakeland homemade treat company.
Bonnie Boyer, who owns the company with her mother, Jansen Johnson, makes the treats at their house with ingredients chosen to treat and prevent a series of doggie problems. It all started with the eponymous beagle, who had food allergies and got better right after Boyer made him home-cooked treats.
Now, if a four-legged customer has any allergy or special need that the Doggie O's (which look just like Oreos) or after-dinner mints (which help with bad breath and gas) can't treat, Boyer will make one that can.
For Brian Corby, it was a healthy buddy system that got his dog and many others on the eco-friendly path.
"I started to get a lot greener in my life and it started to greenify my dog," said Corby, who today owns Green Dog Wash, a do-it-yourself dog groomer in Tampa.
His customers' dogs, like his own, are only exposed to natural products, organic flea spray, hemp collars and leashes, and are towel-dried to reduce energy consumption and pollution.
Want to help your doggie go green? Here are four products to check out.
2 Girls and a Beagle Treats: Coconut oil for skin issues, sweet potatoes for diabetics or flaxseed for a shiny coat and to treat yeast infections are some of the tasty and homeopathic ingredients used in the snacks. twogirlsandabeagle.com.
Dancing Paws: The brand makes products like all-botanical Shampooch and Flee, Fleas! flea repellent safe enough for dogs to lick (because you know they will). dancingpaws.com.
Earth Dog: Leashes and harnesses are made with hemp in the United States and are inspired and tested by the owners' 15 rescued dogs. The material is hypoallergenic and completely biodegradable. earthdog.com.
Sister Agnes' Rover Bar: Made with lavender, patchouli and lemongrass, the soap bar prevents fleas and ticks and is the store's third best seller. Sold at Milagros, 1106 Central Ave, St. Petersburg.