In the baby world, the debate between disposable and cloth diapers has been going on for quite some time, especially on the topic of environmental impact. While it hasn't garnered the same level of attention, a similar situation exists in the dog world. Historically disposables have been the diaper of choice for both 2 legged and 4 legged users, but the fact that reusable, cloth diapers provide a viable, effective and environmentally friendly alternative has helped it to gain market share.
When I first started selling incontinence products, I was like so many pet parents immediately looking to disposables for the answer. At the time they were the primary option available and I was excited to be able to provide them to pet parents looking for help in managing dog incontinence. However, once I started reading more and more about the harmful environmental impacts of disposable diapers, I quickly changed my opinion.
The research comes from the baby world since they represent the bulk of the disposables in landfills, but the information is transferable to disposable dog diapers which are made with similar materials. According to the Real Diaper Association, many disposable diapers have been known to use chemicals proven to be harmful to humans and animals such as Dioxin, a by-product of bleaching that has been labeled as a carcinogenic and Tributyl-tin (TBT) a toxic pollutant believed to cause hormonal problems. Most disposables also contain Sodium polyacrylate, which becomes a gel-like substance used to help wick the moisture away in diapers, but it has also been cited as a potential respiratory tract irritant.
With more than 18 billion disposable diapers sold (not including dog diapers or adult diapers) probably the most disturbing impact involves their presence in landfills, where it is estimated that these diapers take between 250-500 years to decompose! Cloth diapers, whether they are for humans or dogs, even when you factor in manufacturing and washing, does not come close to the burden on the environment that disposables create.
When I became aware of these harmful effects and factored in the costs of disposable diapers for dogs versus having something reusable, I decided to stop selling disposables altogether. Instead, I created our own line of washable cloth dog diapers, belly bands and pads called Washable Wonders, modeled after the best cloth baby diapers available today, to give dog parents an eco-friendly and affordable option for managing dog incontinence. I don't know about you, but I sure feel better :)