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Is Baking Soda Toxic to Guinea Pigs?

Is baking soda toxic to guinea pigs?

Small animal lovers fight plenty of losing battles every day. Stray guinea pig hay finds its way to a spotless carpet minutes after the vacuum cleaner’s job is done. Your black sweater laughs at the lint roller’s attempt to remove all signs of snuggles with your furry BFF. And odor? Even the most diligent cage cleaners wish their guinea pig bedding had extra super powers.

Is Baking Soda the Answer?

Baking soda is a fridge staple for a good reason. It’s great for absorbing unpleasant smells. It seems logical to sprinkle a layer underneath your guinea pig litter to help control any icky odors and extend the time between needed cage cleanings. But is it safe for your guinea pig? Unfortunately not. Baking soda may cause health problems for guinea pigs.

Baking soda is a lung irritant. If the particles are inhaled, it can irritate their already sensitive respiratory systems. No one wants to deal with stubborn respiratory infections. If ingested, baking soda can cause intestinal bloating. Equally unappealing, huh?

Before anecdotal accounts started to bring light to the issue, it was common practice among many well-intentioned small pet owners to use baking soda in guinea pigs’ enclosures. Even vets recommended it! After all, it sounded better than added synthetic fragrance or the toxic aromatic oils in dangerous cedar shavings, right? Some big box pet store brands added baking soda to commercial beddings and litters when it was trendy (and a few still do)! Luckily, now we know better.

Safer Methods for Odor Control  

Here’s the tried and true secret. (Ok, it’s a pretty obvious routine.)

  • Use high quality, absorbent guinea pig bedding
  • Clean the cage frequently*

That’s it. Nothing fancy. If your current guinea pig bedding of choice feels wet, it’s probably not doing a great job at controlling odor. Sorry newspaper. Sorry old towels. It’s time for an upgrade.

Small Pet Select’s Premium Paper Based Bedding is soft and absorbent and made with unbleached virgin fiber. Our paper is not from the potentially dangerous leftovers from reclaimed paper production (called "sludge,” which has detectable levels of dioxin in it). It’s also not made from recycled paper that has been printed on, which can contain toxic residues. And, of course, no baking soda – just totally natural odor control.

*Bonus tip: Use a 50/50 white vinegar and water mixture to wipe down the cage bottom and walls before replacing with fresh bedding for a good-as-new start.

Admittedly, there still isn’t a ton of reliable, evidence-based research out there on the topic of the toxicity of baking soda in guinea pigs. While baking soda is likely not the safest choice out there, a brief exposure probably isn’t going to be immediately detrimental for the majority small animals. Our take on the matter, however: Why risk it?

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