Why is plastic-free, minimally processed, honestly environmentally friendly dog gear so hard to find?
Think about all of your dog supplies. Between additive-filled treats wrapped in cellophane, toys stuffed with polyester, and the plastic poop bags we use every day, there’s a lot that our dogs need that doesn’t feel so good for the earth or our dogs.
We believe that environmentally conscious and socially responsible dog products should be the expectation: not the exception. So, here’s our list of other dog companies in Ontario that feel the same way and provide some great eco-friendly alternatives to everyday dog supplies.
WHAT MAKES A DOG COMPANY OR PRODUCT TRULY ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY?
To build this list of eco-friendly dog gear, we looked for companies and products who:
- Use upcycled or recycled materials as much as possible, but ideally don’t use any new plastics or synthetic materials made from fossil fuels
- Ideally have products that are either completely consumable, can be properly recycled or degrade into natural materials at the end of their usable life
- Are local to Ontario and independently owned, reducing the impact of shipping (if you also live in Ontario)
- In a best case scenario, support social justice alongside environmental justice in both their values and actions
Now, onto the lists!
Eco-friendly Dog Toys
Dog toys are tricky because they can last a minute or a month or years depending on your dog and the durability of the toy. Whatever is left of that toy once your dog is done with it, however, will be on this earth for hundreds of years after that.
If a thin PET water bottle can take 450 years to decompose, you can bet that your “indestructible” plastic chew toy will take longer. So what are the alternatives to “durable” toys that are made of or contain plastics (nylon, vinyl, etc.)?
DOG TOYS MADE OUT OF NATURAL OR RECYCLED MATERIALS
Rope Toys • Toronto, Ontario
TyPaw gets lots of points from us due to their all-natural cotton and jute rope toys that go beyond “eco”. A social enterprise, TyPaw toys are made by women in Dahka, Bangladesh through a non-profit whose mission is to empower women through fair-trade and whose vision is to create strong-minded and self-sufficient women in Bangladesh. Their jute rope toys are natural and thus completely biodegradable, and their cotton toys are stuffed with recycled plastic water bottles.
Past Into New
Tough Toys • Wainfleet, Ontario
Peggy’s shop is full of products made from upcycled firefighting gear! Their recycled fire hose dog toys are affordable, really tough and look extremely nifty. They have an option with a squeaker and one with a recycled plastic bottle.
If keeping your dog chewing and busy is what you’re after, consider all-natural and safe chews like antlers, yak cheese and beef pizzle (bully sticks) instead of a plastic or rubber toy!
Bully Bags Canada
Bully Sticks, Chews • Toronto, Ontario
This is our go-to supplier of beef bully sticks, yak cheese and tasty snacks here in Toronto. They do unfortunately use plastic and single-use packaging for some of their packs and their shipping bags, but if you’re local you can use curb side pickup to reduce the impact of shipping! What makes them “eco” to us is that they are independent, local, use Canadian beef, and have no added salts, dyes, flavours, preservatives or chemicals.
Onterra Natural Pet
Chews, Bones, Tendons • Ontario
While we typically stay away from smoked/dried bones because of the risk of splintering, their smoked tendons, pig ears and other treats are awesome! Most of their treats are packaged and delivered in recyclable/compostable cardboard boxes and kraft paper. Their products are also single-ingredient, human-grade, produced to order to maintain freshness and minimize waste, and do not add any chemical preservatives.
Sweet Potato Chews • Toronto, Ontario
That’s us! Our 100% sweet potato chews keep puppies and medium-light chewers busy for quite some time. We’re near-zero waste, offset 100% of our carbon emissions and donate 1% of sales to Indigenous climate organizations in Canada.
DIY DOG TOYS AND ENRICHMENT USING HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
If your dog is a power chewer or a de-stuffer and you have to replace toys often, consider upcycling and making your own! You can use old t-shirts and things around the house to make your own safe and fun toys, or take some DIY enrichment ideas from the AKC. An old tennis ball attached to braided fabric makes a great toy for chasing and tugging, and more. Other quick ideas for DIY enrichment toys from around the house:
- Put kibble or treats in a cardboard box and put towels, paper, and other toys on top to make a puzzle
- Use a muffin tin or an egg carton, put pieces of food in each spot and cover them with tennis balls or toys
- Hide some food under upside down cups, plates and bowls
- Roll kibble up in a towel and let your dog figure out how to access the food
- Plastic water bottles that would otherwise be thrown out wrapped in old socks make a nice crinkly activity
- Braid pieces of an old t-shirt together to make a soft but strong rope tug toy
Eco-friendly dog beds
Kylie at Former Fibres in Ontario has lots of great resources about eco-friendly dog beds. In short, the material and importantly the stuffing of almost all dog beds out there is made out of – you guessed it – plastic (the fancy term is polyester fibrefill or polyfil). A truly green alternative to that filling is kapok, a natural fibre that is extracted from the seedpod of the Kapok (Ceiba) tree.
When it comes to the fabric cover used for your dog’s bed, you can always try reusing your own old fabrics first! Otherwise, here are two Ontario-made options for upcycled fabric dog beds.
Dog Beds • Brantford, Ontario
Kylie makes beautiful dog beds from upcycled fabric as well as providing the all-natural alternative to polyfill: kapok. What we love even more is that Former Fibres also takes an educational approach and provides heaps of information as to why they do what they do for the environment.
Hands of Sim
Dog Beds, Toys • Toronto, Ontario
Sim is local to Toronto and uses incredible, beautiful upcycled textiles to make her one of a kind dog beds. They are reasonably priced, and you can either buy just the shell to stuff your own or get one pre-stuffed.
Eco-friendly dog leashes and collars
If you’re looking for a new collar or leash, we ask first: what’s wrong with the ones you’ve got? It’s not a loaded question – there are lots of completely valid reasons as to why you might need one, but we just like to check in with ourselves whenever we think about buying something we already have.
Now what are collars and leashes made out of, anyway?
TYPES OF MATERIALS FOR LEASHES AND COLLARS
Most collars and leashes are made from nylon webbing. Nylon is a thermoplastic, and while it has some great practical features like being water resistant, lightweight and strong, it is ultimately still plastic.
Another popular material for dog leashes (and quickly growing in popularity) is called BioThane®. BioThane® is the brand name of all coated webbing made by the company also called BioThane Coated Webbing Corp. From their website, “It’s basically a polyester webbing with a TPU or PVC coating that makes it more durable, waterproof, easy to clean and weldable.” What that translates to is that BioThane® is plastic webbing coated with a different kind of plastic that changes its properties.
Aside from being plastic, we don’t love the fact that they’ve used “bio” in their name because it can be misleading to customers. While Biothane® can be an awesome option if you plan to use it every day for the rest of your dog’s life and one Biothane® product will replace 10 others that would break, fail or need to be replaced, the material itself isn’t particularly “bio”.
All of that said, however, the upsides of BioThane® are pretty hard to ignore and they do make for some impressive looking and performing products! So if you do choose to purchase a BioThane® product, just make sure you’ll use it for life. If you’re looking for something completely natural, recycled or upcycled, here are some Ontario-made options.
Past Into New
Collars, Leashes • Wainfleet, Ontario
Peggy’s shop is full of products made from upcycled firefighting gear! Their recycled rubber fire hose dog leashes are waterproof, strong and each one is unique. It’s a fantastic option for people looking for the durability and easy-to-clean features of biothane, but don’t want a brand new PET (plastic) product. Past Into New also makes collars that feature a 3 tri-stripe reflective piece.
Second Floor Dogs Co.
Collars • Cambridge, Ontario
Ainsleigh makes beautiful dog collars made from upcycled fabric making each one a limited edition. Forest’s first collar was from their Pride Collection, where 40% was donated to The 519 who are committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ2S communities in Toronto. We love an intersectional initiative!
Dog Blue Designs
Collars, Leashes, Accessories • Hamilton, Ontario
In this Etsy shop you’ll find organic hemp leashes & collars! They also have organic cotton leashes, collars and bandanas. Both of these materials are a fantastic natural alternative to nylon or biothane. As a bonus, 20% of every sale goes to dog rescue organizations.
Collars, Leashes, Harnesses • St. Thomas, Ontario
If you’re looking for the feel, durability and waterproofness of nylon, check out Jetta Jacks! Their leashes, harnesses and collars are made from 100% recycled PET. We love their extremely detail oriented and pet-health-forward approach to design that keeps the comfort and well-being of your dog top of mind. They also support mental health initiatives for first responders.
Collars • Toronto, Ontario
Check out our handmade Guatemalan Dog Collars and upcycled/recycled climbing rope leashes here!
Eco-friendly dog poop bags
Poop bags and dog waste disposal in general is a monster all on its own. That’s why we wrote an entire Ultimate Guide to Dog Poop and Poop Bags, so check it out!
You can also buy our 100% compostable plant-based Nifty Dog Poop Bags here →
Poop Bags • Toronto, Ontario
These friends are the only other Toronto-based shop (that we know of) that also supplies compostable poop bags! Like our Nifty Dog Poop Bags, Pawsitive Solutions bags are made of 100% plant-based material that makes them compostable – not just biodegradable. Check out our Poop Bag Guide to learn more.