When choosing bedding for your guinea pig’s cage or bunny’s litter box, you’re probably looking for odor control and absorbency first and foremost. Let’s get real, no one wants to scoop poop all day long while fighting a losing battle against litter box odors. But you also want to make sure the substrate of choice is safe, healthy, and cozy for your little one. The best options are free of dyes, perfumes, and respiratory irritants. The worst can cause organ damage and dangerous blockages if ingested. Let’s stick with those in the first bucket, shall we?
Top 3 Bedding Choices for Small Animals
There isn’t really one “best” bedding option; the right choice comes down to your own lifestyle, budget, and furbaby’s personal preference. You can’t go wrong with these three:
1) Paper bedding. Paper bedding is great for allergy sufferers. It’s not dusty and there’s no risk from dangerous aromatic oils. Plus, it’s extra cozy! Try unbleached white paper bedding during recovery from surgery or illness to easily monitor droppings. Our paper bedding isn’t from recycled paper that has been printed on, so you can rest easy knowing there really aren’t any toxic residues.
2) Aspen wood shavings. It’s totally possible to pinch pennies and still buy healthy small animal bedding. Aspen is a wallet-friendly, safe alternative to softwood bedding like dangerous cedar. It’s compostable, too – less waste! Our aspen bedding is made from kiln-dried wood shaved from logs. You want to avoid brands that instead use the potentially dangerous leftovers from reclaimed paper production, called sludge.
3) Wood pellets. Wood pellets are an economical, long-lasting choice for litter boxes. Wood pellets can also make a nice bottom layer for guinea pig cages, topped with fleece or soft paper bedding or aspen shavings for comfort. Make sure you know what type of wood the pellets are made from, however. While pine and cedar can both lead to liver disease and respiratory system damage, the difference is pine can be kiln dried to be made safe for small animals. No worries about pesky phenols with our pine pellet bedding.
Bedding Materials to Avoid
There are certainly additional safe alternatives to our top 3 favorite bedding options. Some enjoy environmentally friendly fleece, hemp, or find a litter box full of hay works just fine, for example. Whatever you go with, though, be sure to avoid the following:
- Pine that hasn’t been kiln-dried
- Corn cob bedding
- Clay-based cat litter
- Scented bedding
- Added baking soda
With so many options on the market, it’s hard to know what’s safe. As a general rule, avoid anything with too much dust or any additives, like synthetic fragrance or baking soda. The all-too-common “100% natural” label doesn’t get a free pass a free pass, either; some softwoods like cedar naturally contain harmful aromatic oils, and innocent-sounding corn cob bedding can lead to GI obstructions. Those little noses and tummies are more sensitive than we think. Our recommendation? Play it safe with tried-and-true favorites.