How to choose a guinea pig bedding that works for your situation.
The best guinea pig bedding is one that is safe for your pet, works with your lifestyle, and fits within your budget. But it can be hard to know what options are out there!
The type of bedding you use with your guinea pig is important because it can greatly affect their health and quality of life. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common guinea pig bedding options and their pros and cons so you can decide what is the right bedding choice for your piggies.
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What Makes a Good Guinea Pig Bedding
What bedding you choose for your guinea pigs is important because it can have a big impact on their health. You want to choose a comfortable bedding option that will easily fit into your pet routine.
Guinea pigs have a very sensitive respiratory system. Because of this, you want to make sure you choose good bedding that is easy to keep clean. Think about how close their heads are to the floor – the wrong bedding could cause a lot of respiratory problems. You also don’t want to choose bedding made from a material that is going to irritate their respiratory system either.
We’re going to go over the pros and cons of a few different types of bedding in a second, but first, let’s talk about a few things all bedding should have.
First, you don’t want bedding that is really dusty. Some options are definitely dustier than others – and this can even depend on the brand. For example, some brands of paper-based bedding (which we’ll talk about) are totally fine, and some are so dusty it’s hard to open the bag without sneezing. You may have to try a few options to find something that works well for you.
You also want to choose absorbent bedding so your piggy is staying dry. Your guinea pig doesn’t want to sit in wet spots and it’s not good for their health either! How absorbent the bedding is can also determine how often you have to clean the cage.
Finally, you want the bedding option you choose to fit your budget and your lifestyle. Guinea pig cages are pretty large so you want something that you can afford. Some types of bedding are less expensive but more work, so take that into consideration when choosing what will work best for your guinea pigs.
Now, let’s go over some healthy bedding options!
Paper Bedding for Guinea Pigs
Paper-based bedding is a pretty popular choice for guinea pig owners. It’s pretty soft and is absorbent so it’s a good choice for the average guinea pig owner who just wants to clean their cage once a week.
Paper-based bedding, as you’ve probably guessed, is made out of paper. This makes it totally safe for guinea pigs. I have found some brands to be dustier than others.
Paper bedding is also pretty easy to find and relatively inexpensive. You can find this type of bedding at most pet stores – CareFresh is a good example of paper-based bedding that is easy to find.
My personal favorite brand of natural paper bedding, and the one I use with my pets, is from Small Pet Select. It is reasonably priced and the bags are large so it lasts us a while (we use it for the bunnies’ litter box). It also seems less dusty to me than some of the other brands.
One of the major downsides of using paper bedding is that you have to constantly buy it. When you have a correctly sized guinea pig cage, buying all that bedding can add up quickly. I currently have eight guinea pigs at the time of writing this – buying bedding for that many pigs on a regular basis would be crazy expensive!
Fleece Cage Liners
This is my personal favorite for guinea pig bedding and what I use with my herd, but it’s not for everyone. Fleece has some specific care requirements that other types of bedding don’t have. Let’s quickly go over how to use fleece bedding.
To use fleece cage liners for guinea pigs, you have to understand how fleece works so you can use it correctly. When using fleece, you need to have the fleece layer and an absorbent layer underneath. There are a ton of options for the absorbent layer – Uhaul furniture pads, puppy pads, towels, mattress pads, crib pads… the list goes on. You basically just want something super absorbent.
The fleece layer also has to be properly prepared – this is called “wicking” the fleece. Do not skip this step! This is what makes fleece bedding work properly to be healthy and safe for your pets. When the fleece is wicked properly, the liquid will just pull straight through the fleece to the absorbent layer, leaving your pet clean and dry! To learn more about the wicking process, check out my full article on how to use fleece bedding for guinea pigs.
One of the main benefits of fleece liners is that you don’t have to rebuy them on a regular basis. They are a bit expensive up front, but they will last you a really long time. I have fleece liners that I’ve been using for 6+ years now, and they still work perfectly fine. You use them in the cage and then wash them in the washing machine to use in your cages again.
There are many places you can get fleece liners. You could get a ready-to-use Guineadad fleece liner or order custom patterned fleece liners from Etsy. There are a ton of pet owners that sew and sell fleece liners and beds for guinea pigs.
The main downside of guinea pig fleece bedding is that it requires daily maintenance. Cages that use fleece have to be spot cleaned every single day – this means sweeping up all the hay and poops from the day and changing out any wet fleece pads. A lot of people use smaller pads in high-traffic areas so they aren’t changing the entire cage all the time. Check out a video of me spot cleaning cages here!
Aspen Bedding for Guinea Pigs
Aspen wood shavings are actually the only totally safe wood shaving option to use with guinea pigs.
With Aspen, you don’t have to worry about strong scents or wood oils that some of the other types of shavings have (that we’ll discuss in a minute). They are absorbent but not quite as absorbent as paper-based bedding.
With Aspen bedding, you likely will only have to clean your cage around once a week. However, shavings don’t go too far when it comes to odor control, so you may have to spot clean a few times between cage cleans, or clean the cage a little more often.
Aspen shavings are easily found in pet stores and feed stores and are pretty inexpensive. They’re likely the cheapest safe bedding option you could find for guinea pigs in a store. They do have the downside of needing to be continually purchased on a regular basis like paper-based bedding.
Another downside of wood shavings is they are not as soft as paper bedding. I mean, they’re shavings of wood, so they aren’t going to be the most comfortable option.
I recommend Small Pet Select for aspen shavings as well. They’re supposed to be softer than other brands and have low dust. They are made directly from logs instead of being made from milling leftovers, which means they’re always safe and of higher quality.
Are Pine Shavings Safe for Guinea pigs?
Yes and no.
Some pine shavings are safe, but you can’t just grab any bag of shavings you see at the feed store. If you want to try pine bedding, you have to make sure it is kiln-dried. And it’s a huge plus if you can also find them dust-extracted.
We’ll talk about this again in the next section with other unsafe bedding options, but some types of wood have aromatic oils and scents that are unsafe for guinea pigs because they are too harsh for their sensitive respiratory systems. Making sure the shavings are kiln-dried helps with this.
Honestly, though, there are so many other better options for bedding that I would recommend looking at other options!
Unsafe Bedding Options
There are a few common bedding options in feed and pet stores that are not safe for guinea pigs.
First up is Cedar wood shavings. As far as I know, cedar shavings are not actually safe for any small animals to live on full time. I don’t know why they even sell it for small pets. Cedar has a strong scent and the wood can have oils on it that can irritate a guinea pig’s skin and cause other health issues. You definitely want to stay away from this one.
As I mentioned before, pine shavings are not safe either (unless kiln-dried) for pretty much the same reasons as cedar. Honestly, all the wood shaving options are my least favorite bedding choices for guinea pigs.
You also don’t want to use wood stove pellets for guinea pigs. These are sometimes used in litter boxes for guinea pigs because they are commonly used for rabbits. Since they basically turn to sawdust once they get wet, I wouldn’t recommend using these for guinea pigs.
Final Thoughts on the Best Bedding for Guinea Pigs
It’s hard to say which is the absolute best bedding for guinea pigs since different types of bedding will work better for different people Whichever bedding you pick, make sure it’s safe and healthy for your piggies and works well for your lifestyle and budget Your piggies will thank you!