Best Bedding for Guinea Pigs -
Key Things to Consider

If you've owned a pet before, you probably can agree with me — in most homes pets are taken in as part of the family. 

Fed, bathed and given a warm, comfy area, you want to make your pet feel at home. What is abetter way to do that than to give them a comfortable and suitable bed?

Although you don't want to break the bank when it comes to purchasing the perfect product, you might notice that beddings for guinea pigs can get a bit pricey.

However, before you are alarmed, there are a few things you should be aware of that can help you not only choose the features that are specifically set for your guinea pig (which can help you estimate the price range) but also weed out the beddings that are not as suitable for your particular guinea pig. 

cute guinea pig

How to choose Guinea Pig Bedding

To help you understand which features are most important in a bed, it's important to understand how the bedding makes a guinea pig feel.

What Does Guinea Pig Bedding Feel Like?

Although you might not actually be able to test your guinea pig bedding out yourself, you'll have to trust us in saying that the material of the bedding makes all the difference.

In the wild, the guinea pig generally lives on grassy habitats. This is where they spend the majority of their time.

From resting to socializing with their guinea pig friends and families, to nesting and feeling safe, you need to present your pet guinea pigs with something similar to their wild habitat. 

This can help them feel not only safe but help them become happier and healthier guinea pig!

This grassy habitat may feel scratchy to you, but they are considered quite comfortable to guinea pigs.

Things to Consider When Choosing
Guinea Pig Bedding

To help you pick out the best bedding, there are a few features for you to consider that can help you sort out which type of bedding is best for your guinea pig pal.

A few questions you should ask yourself as a guinea pig owner before buying a particular product are:

1. Does it absorb urine well?
2. Does it do anything against bad odors?
3. Does it mimic the feel and material of the natural habit of a wild guinea pig?
4. Is it natural and healthy for a guinea pig?
5. Is it dust- or chemical-free?

You can check for the answers to these questions not only in the general information of the packaging but also in reviews of each particular product.

Some other aspects of guinea pig bedding for you to consider also include:

  • The Size of the Bedding 

The size of the bedding also relates specifically to the size of your guinea pig and also its enclosure.

Not only do you need a big fluff of bedding for your pet to sleep on, but you'll also want to fill the bottom of the cage with loosely-packed bedding to feel comfortable.

However, you also don't want to overflow your guinea pig's cage, which can not only make them feel overwhelmed but also give you more to clean up.

The general rule here is to make the size of the bedding about twice as large as your pet at its biggest size.

  • The Color of the Bedding 

Although you may choose the color of your quilt or bed because of aesthetic reasoning, choosing a particular color of your guinea pig's bed can be helpful for you.

If you choose light-colored bedding, this can help you visually see when it's wet and needs to be changed. 

You also might want to consider the color of it to be as visually similar to your guinea pig's natural habitat, so they feel comfortable and at home.

  • The Type of Guinea Pig 

Each guinea pig is different when it comes to type, which can mean that your pet will either prefer a drier environment rather than a moist one perhaps found in the wild.

Play around with hay, wood pellets, and other bedding material to find which materials are best for your particular guinea pig. 

Petite pets in a row

Different Types of Guinea Bedding

When it comes to various types, as we just mentioned above, there are different advantages and disadvantages to each.

You can either try each type out yourself to see how your guinea pig reacts or check out the pros and cons of each down below.

Here is a short list of the various types of guinea pig beddings:

  • Wood shavings
  • Sawdust
  • Fleece
  • Paper
  • Cage liners
  • Cloth
  • Vet bed

1. Wood shavings

One of the most common types of bedding used for guinea pigs in the past has been wood shavings.

However, when you choose particular wood shavings, you need to know that some wood can actually be a danger to your guinea pig's health. For this reason, you'll want to avoid cedar.

The best types of wood shavings would be aspen, which is also quite inexpensive.

However, one of the cons of wood shavings is that they're not particularly as absorbent as other choices of material out there.

Pros: 

  • Inexpensive
  • Commonly used
  • Stocked in most pet stores

Cons: 

  • Not particularly absorbent
  • Can be dangerous depending on the type
avoid wood shavings for hamster bedding

2. Sawdust

If you need to go for an inexpensive choice, sawdust can be particularly cheap.

However, it is not exactly absorbent and can lead to quite a bit of mess to clean up since it spreads around everywhere, which can cause you to tend to your

Pros: 

  • Inexpensive
  • Found in most pet stores
  • Can be gathered on your own

Cons: 

sawdust for bedding

3. Fleece

One type of bedding that has gained popularity in recent years with guinea pet owners has been fleece.

If you're concerned with the health of your guinea pig, fleece is one of the best bedding options out there. 

Pet owners and pets alike have loved fleece as a guinea pig bed because of its comfort, soft, and absorbent material, especially since it is extremely absorbent.

Another great reason to try fleece out as your guinea pig's bedding is that it can be reused, which is particularly helpful if you cannot devote a lot of time to changing bedding or have more than one guinea pig.

It's also quite inexpensive and in most stores can be priced even cheaper than sawdust. Fleece also works well with a towel or two underneath.

Pros: 

  • Inexpensive
  • Soft
  • Safer and cleaner than sawdust
  • Extremely absorbent
  • Can be reused

Cons: 

  • Not too much customer history on this material
fleece soft fabric

4. Paper

If you're willing to go the extra mile for your guinea pig, you won't care too much about spending a little bit more on paper (since you have to replace it constantly) in your guinea pig's cage.

Paper-based guinea pigs products are safe for most species of guinea pigs—however, some rougher products might be a bit uncomfortable.

Some products are also not as absorbent as others, which means you have to do your research beforehand when choosing a particular brand. When they lack absorbency, they also lack in odor protection, which means they'll have to be changed more frequently if you want to avoid the odor getting out of hand.

Some paper-based bedding can also lead to a high amount of dust in the air, which is not so great for the health of your guinea pig.

However, if you choose a high-quality brand paper bedding, changing and cleaning it is quite easy. They are also much more comfortable for your guinea pig than wood shavings are and come without all the extra health hazards.

Pros: 

  • Can be changed and cleaned easily
  • More comfortable

Cons: 

  • Some products are not very absorbent
  • Cheaper products lack odor control
  • Low-quality products can be quite dusty
soft paper bedding for guinea pigs

5. Cage Liners

Instead of springing for fleece, you can also go with a cage liner or two.

Definitely easier to change out than other beddings on the market, cage liners can be quite simple to lift up, throw into the washing machine and use it again. This can also save you from dishing out more money on replacements.

Although it is more expensive, it lasts much longer than other types of material.

Pros: 

  • Easy to clean and wash
  • Can be reused
  • Comfortable

Cons: 

  • Expensive (but lasts for a long time)

6. Cloth

Another great, comfortable option for a guinea pig's bed is cotton cloth, which can be particularly inexpensive and good for the environment.

This is because you can recycle your old clothes and use it as a homemade, practical option.

However, you definitely want to make sure you only use a cloth that is made out of cotton since it's highly absorbent, soft, comfortable, and safe for guinea pig-usage.

The problem with the cotton cloth option is daily maintenance. So, if you're looking to avoid spending time cleaning, this option is not for you. Solid waste of your guinea pig needs to be removed by hand, and the cleaning of it requires attention.

However, since you may have a ton of spare cloth around the house, you can easily change and replace it—throwing it away when used. One cloth shirt can be cut up and cover a month or two of your guinea pig's bedding (depending on the size of your pet and the number of pets you have).

You also need to be aware that cloth is not particularly good at eliminating or preventing odor.

Pros: 

  • Washable
  • Old cloth t-shirts can be used
  • Low-budget and last-minute option

Cons: 

  • Requires more time with maintenance
  • Not great at absorbency or odor prevention
cotton cloth

7. Vet Bed

Easy enough to wash and foregoing that the sticky disadvantage of cage liners, a vet bed can be another great option for your guinea pig.

The vet bed is usually highly-absorbent, which means that your guinea pig will always be sleeping on a dry surface.

It's also highly affordable and doesn't have any pockets or under layers that your guinea pig may get trapped into.

Another great advantage, most shops carry it!

Pros: 

  • Easy wash and maintenance
  • Highly absorbent
  • Is not sticky for guinea pig
  • Your guinea pig won't get trapped within it

Cons: 

  • Not too much customer history on this material

Materials That Should Not be Used as Guinea Pig Bedding

Now that you know what you should be used as bedding, it's important to go over what might be dangerous for your pet.

Especially since the guinea pig is known to have a sensitive respiratory system and delicate feet, you'll want to make sure that the bedding you buy isn't detrimental to his or her body and health.

Here are a few materials that you should avoid when picking out your guinea pig's bedding:

  • Cedar or pine wood shavings: These particular wood shavings can be a danger to their health.
  • Corn cob bedding: This type of bedding is prone to mold growth or intestinal blockage when eaten.
  • Straw: Since it's particularly hard in texture, it's not absorbent and can produce strong ammonia odor that is dangerous. It can also splinter and lead to injuries.
  • Kitty litter: Although you may feel like you can double use your cat's litter with your guinea pig, it actually is dangerous if ingested and can get tangled in your pet's hair.

How to Clean a Guinea Pig Cage

Depending on the type of bedding you get, maintenance might be a bit different, material to material.

However, the foundation of the steps is generally the same.

Whether you're going to be cleaning on a daily or a weekly (or even bi-weekly) basis, here is the standard practice of cleaning your guinea pig's cage:

1. First start by cleaning the cage—pick out any visible dirt, feces, and other areas that you can see.

2. Remove any excess or leftover food from the feeding area.

3. If you have bedding that lines the floor like fleece or cloth, remove that as well and clean it according to how you should treat that particular material (machine-wash, replace, etc.).

4. Spot-clean the cage using a wet paper towel and clear the floor area. This should remove any excess waste stuck to the floor.

5. Scoop out any other pieces of offending material that may leave odors harmful to your guinea pig.

6. Replace bedding with a fresh, new one, replace water, and replenish food.

FAQ on bedding for guinea pigs

Whether you're a first-time guinea pig owner or have cycled through fifty of them, here are a few of the more frequently asked questions about guinea pig bedding, answered:

Is fleece the best bedding for guinea pigs?

In recent history, it is considered to be one of the best products for guinea pigs. Depending on where you buy it, it might be more expensive than budget material like cloth or wood shavings, but come with several advantages like being safer and cleaner than sawdust, extremely absorbent, and can be reused.

Do guinea pigs need bedding?

Even guinea pigs who live in the wild tend to prefer sleeping on straw or wood shavings of some kind. Although they don't technically need bedding to survive, it does help your guinea pig feel safe, comfortable, and at-home.

How much bedding do guinea pigs need?

If you're going to be investing in loose bedding, you'll want to cover the bottom of the cage and make it deep enough for them to burrow. If you're looking for an estimate in size, it should be double the size of the fully-grown guinea pig.

How often should I change the bedding for my guinea pig?

Depending on the material used, you should be changing the bedding at least once a week but may require attention daily. 

What bedding is bad for guinea pigs?

As we mentioned in the article, there are particular materials that you should avoid when it comes to using as bedding for guinea pigs. In general, stay away from cedar and pine wood shavings, corn cob bedding, straw, and kitty litter. 

Can I put a blanket in my guinea pig cage?

Yes, you can! However, make sure that you're going to be washing that blanket on a regular basis and make sure that there are not loose endings that your guinea pig can choke on while chewing. Although blankets are typically pretty absorbent, they can be quite smelly after a while.

Can I use towels for guinea pig bedding?

You can also lay a towel down on the floor of your guinea pig's cage. They might be pretty poor when it comes to odor prevention, but they are generally quite absorbent.

Why does my guinea pig eat his bedding?

This is no cause for alarm! Normally, guinea pigs are just looking for things to chew—and his bedding might be that particular thing. Like a chew toy, guinea pigs need a chewable item to wear down their growing teeth.

Can you use cat litter for guinea pigs?

As we mentioned earlier on in the article, cat litter is bad for guinea pigs. It is highly indigestible and can get tangled in your pet's hair.

How do you potty train a guinea pig?

Potty training a guinea pig is a relatively easy task. However, patience is critical to achieving your goal. You must set a target period, say two months to get there! 

Start the training her from the cage to understand her behavior. In the first few days, you may need to observe how she likes to do it. Often, they love to relieve themselves at the corners of the cage.

Unlike some other pets, they usually choose their favorite spot. Because of their territorial nature, they keep going to a specific corner for calls leaving a unique scent in those spots.

Now place a tray stuffed with litter in the corner where they love to pee or poop. To attract them even more, swab the litter with fresh pee. This will trick the guinea pig into believing that that is the usual position.

Once they get used to using the tray, let them out of the cage. Allow the guinea pig to roam around the hallway and observe the corner of the house; they love to retreat for calls.

Take the litter tray to the corner they love and keep watching. Also, block off all other corners to make it difficult for them to have alternative spots. 

How do you keep a guinea pig cage from smelling?

There are a few hacks to keep the guinea pig environment smelling nice. The number one trick is by cleaning. A guinea pig is like your baby; you should take a keen look at the bed area regularly.

The best way to keep the cage smelling fresh is to clean it once a week and change the bedding every time as well. Doing this should keep most of the nasty smells away.

Use mild soap and hot water when washing the cage to remove any odors. Remember to rinse well. Also, ensure that all its toys and accessories get a regular clean as well.

You can also use a pet-friendly disinfectant that will remove odor like this one.

Another idea for cleaning the cage is using white vinegar. Be careful about how you mix portions of vinegar with water. For a perfect mix, add one part of vinegar to nine parts of water.

You may as well consider using odor control bedding to block unpleasant scents. Wood shavings have great absorbency, too, but paper bedding is even better at absorbing pee and the smell that comes with it. You could also use towels topped with fleece bedding. The fleece will keep the surface dry while the towels underneath will soak up the moisture and are easy to change daily.

Another trick is to use a thin layer of pellet cat litter under the bedding for even better absorbency. Another trick is to sprinkle a little baking soda on the bottoms of the cage before adding the fresh bedding. The baking soda will absorb smells and help you keep the cage fresh.

Also, if your guinea pig gets dirty and smelly, you may need to bathe them too. Use a mild shampoo designed for the purpose and always dry your guinea pig carefully with a towel afterward to prevent them from getting a cold.

Can you put baking soda in the bottom of the guinea pig cage?

Baking soda is a great solution to bad odors in a guinea pig's cage since it absorbs smells and keeps the cage fresh. But you need to make sure you use it safely.

Baking soda is an irritant that inflames the lungs of your guinea pig when used in large quantities. If ingested, it may also result in serious bloating, hence causing much discomfort.

You should use baking soda in moderation. Be cautious about how you dispense it so that it does not come into contact with the pet's food.

The safe way to use baking soda is to sprinkle it on the bottom of the cage when doing the weekly cleanup and changing the bedding. After washing the cage, dry it up thoroughly and sprinkle some baking soda on the bottom. Add a generous layer of bedding (wood shavings or paper bedding) to cover the baking soda and to reduce the chances of it getting into contact with your pet.

How do I keep my guinea pig clean?

To keep your guinea pig clean, first, you need to make sure their cage is clean. 

Start by ensuring that they have good absorbent bedding to sleep on. Highly absorbent bedding like aspen shavings or paper bedding will keep the cage dry, which is important as wetness in the cage will invite bacteria and bad smells. The bedding should be fresh and dry, and you need to change it at least once a week. Also, make sure you remove any uneaten fresh foods after a few hours. A clean and fresh environment will help you keep your guinea pig clean and smell-free, as well.

Another new trend is using fleece and towels as bedding. Placing towels at the bottom of the cage to soak up any moisture and using fleece as the top layer to keep the surface dry is a very easy-to-clean and hygienic solution for keeping your pet's cage clean. Just remember to change and wash those towels often to avoid the smells from building up.

You can also train your guinea pig to use a litter tray, which prevents their coats from getting dirty with feces and urine.

It is not necessary to bathe your pet regularly as that upsets biological processes in their bodies. Restrict bathing to 2 or 3 times annually for better health to your guinea pig.

But if your guinea pig gets its coat dirty, it may be time for a bath. Use a mild shampoo designed for small pets and make sure you rinse the fur thoroughly. Also, be sure to dry your pet with a towel to prevent them from catching a cold.

If, despite cleaning the cage regularly and keeping your pet's fur clean your guinea pig still smells bad, it may be a health issue.

 

Examine all body parts from time to time to identify any threats or signs of disease. For example, male guinea pigs may harm their genitals leading to swelling or inflammation, or your pet might be suffering from a skin condition. For further diagnosis, visit the vet.

Can guinea pigs use straw for bedding

It is not wise to use straw as bedding for your guinea pigs. Your pet has sensitive skin, and they may get pricked or poked in the eye with a pointy straw.

Another downside of using straws is its inability to absorb ammonia and moisture. Guinea pigs thrive when they sleep in absorbent bedding. Straws are also a perfect breeding ground for mites, and a mite infestation may lead to real discomfort and health issues.

Aspen wood shavings, paper bedding, and fleece are better options than straw. These materials are safer, softer, and more absorbent while also being just as inexpensive.

Do you have to use bedding for guinea pigs?

Yes, just like you wouldn't want to sleep on a hard floor, neither would your guinea pig. Bedding will offer your pet comfort while also giving them something to burrow in. As a prey animal, guinea pigs feel safe when they can hide, and fluffy bedding makes them feel safe in their homes.

Good bedding for guinea pigs should absorb any moisture to ensure maximum comfort and a clean, smell-free cage. Wood shavings, paper bedding, and fleece have excellent absorbency and are easy to clean.

Is it OK to use shredded paper for guinea pig bedding?

Many guinea pig lovers don't like using shredded paper as bedding for their pets. Shredded paper is not absorbent and can't hold urine for long. Consequently, it increases wetness in the cage, which is unhygienic. You will have more work cleaning the cage as it gets soaked up fast.

Guinea pigs are sensitive animals, just like rabbits and hamsters. So, the ink in the paper may harm them when it mixes with the urine. Also, the shredded paper encourages bad odors since wet paper does not dry fast indoors.

When you are out of other bedding and have no other choice, try using plain shredded paper. That will avoid the mess that comes with inked paper.

Can I use the newspaper as bedding for my guinea pig?

Newspapers are not the best bedding for guinea pigs. You risk their health by using newspapers as it gets soggy real quick. 

Also, guinea pigs love to gnaw what is around them, and they won't spare the newspaper. With all the ink in the newspaper, there is no doubt that they are exposed to health risks.

But some pet owners use newspapers cleverly. It works well if you place them beneath the fleece. But you must keep replenishing the newspapers to maintain hygiene in the cage.

For safe newspaper usage, find out if the publisher uses vegetable-based ink or just synthetic types. Vegetable ink is quite safe and won't harm your pet. The best choice is the black inked newspapers, which is largely vegetable-based.

Is scented bedding safe for guinea pigs?

We don't recommend using scented bedding for your guinea pig.

Guinea pigs have a very good sense of smell, and what may seem like a mild scent of lavender for you may make them feel really uncomfortable. Just like people, guinea pigs don't want to live in a smelly environment, and for them, scented bedding is exactly that.

Also, because they have very sensitive respiratory systems, the added chemicals in these types of products may do more harm than good.

If you're looking for scented bedding because your pet's cage has a bad smell, try more absorbent bedding and changing it more often. You can also train your guinea pig to use a litter tray and spray the cage with odor-removing disinfectant when cleaning. With these tricks, you should be able to keep your pets cage smell-free even without scented bedding.

How often do you change guinea pig fleece?

It depends on whether your guinea pigs are trained to use the litter pan, but you need to change and clean the fleece at least once a week.

You should scoop up the poop 1-2 times a day and spot clean a few times a week. If your guinea pigs are trained to using the litter tray, you may be able to change the fleece only once a week. But if your pets will urinate anywhere, then you should have some absorbent towels under the fleece, and they need to be changed 2-5 times a week depending on how many pets you have a how quickly the towels get moist and start smelling.

The point is that the cage should always be kept dry and smell-free - for your and your pet's comfort. Change the fleece often enough to have a clean cage that smells fresh.

Cleaning the fleece is actually pretty quick - just shake off any debris and throw it in the washer. You should also use a dryer if possible because it will kill the bacteria. Use vinegar or pet-friendly detergents to remove smells.

We hope this article has provided you with more than enough information to help you find the right bedding for your guinea pig.

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