Is Sawdust A Toxic Bedding For Guinea Pigs?

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Trying to find the best bedding to use for your guinea pigs can be exhausting. And some people ask themselves “Can sawdust be used as guinea pig bedding?”

No, sawdust shouldn’t be used as guinea pig bedding. Sawdust is very dusty, which can irritate your guinea pig’s sensitive respiratory system. This makes it difficult for guinea pigs to breath. Sawdust bedding cause lung infections and even kill your guinea pig over time.

a picture of a guinea pig freaking out because he doesn't know if he's supposed to have sawdust as his bedding

You want to make sure the bedding you choose is the best choice for you and your guinea pig. There are lots of things to think about.

In this article you’ll learn why sawdust is…THE. WORST. CHOICE. EVER. And I’ll also go over some safer guinea pig bedding alternatives that are out there.

Is Sawdust Safe To Use As Guinea Pig Bedding?

a tip about using sawdust as guinea pig bedding
Just don’t do it. Don’t use sawdust as bedding.

Sawdust isn’t safe to use as bedding for your guinea pig. In fact, it’s very dangerous. Breathing in the dust that saw dust creates daily will put your guinea pig at risk for developing health problems like:

  • Lung infections
  • Allergies
  • Respiratory problems

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These are just some of the respiratory issues that your guinea pigs might face if you use sawdust as their bedding.

But, don’t be scared. There’s much better (and safer) options out there. Wood shavings, fleece, chenille bath mats, or paper beddings are a great swap. But you need to make sure you get the right ones.

What Are Some Disadvantages Of Using Sawdust As Bedding For Guinea Pigs?

a graph of guinea pig parents that don't use sawdust as bedding

Respiratory issues for your guinea pigs, messiness, and skin problems are the main disadvantages of using sawdust.  Guinea pig parents are becoming more aware of the dangers every day.

So, I checked with 110 piggie parents to find out why they switched from sawdust to another type of bedding. Here is what they had to say:

96% (106)Respiratory Issues
3% (3)Messy
1% (1)Skin Irritation

As you can see, respiratory issues are the biggest concern.  This is why most owners have switched from sawdust to another type of bedding. There is some good news though. Even though sawdust is not good for bedding, there are other beddings that can be used and won’t harm your furry friend.

People who want more natural bedding usually choose the wood shavings, hemp bedding, or paper bedding. These are the more traditional types of bedding, and they all work great. But make sure that the package says that most of the dust has been removed. Your little piggies will be popcorning and burrowing in no time in any of these.

People who want an easier clean-up tend to use the fleece, reusable liners, or bath mats. There is less mess on the floor with these choices. The reusable liners tend to be the better option of the three. Any urine gets soaked into the liner, so they stay dry to the touch and odor control is great. 

The bathmats and fleece soak up the urine great, but they stay damp. Cleaning should be done more often to prevent odors from getting bad.  They will also need to be washed in your washing machine.  Make sure you are ok with that before moving forward.

Alternatives To Using Sawdust As Guinea Pig Bedding

a sarcastic guinea pig comment about using sawdust as guinea pig bedding

There are many alternatives to using sawdust as guinea pig bedding.  Let’s look into a few of these other options in more detail. 

1. Guineadad Liner 

This reusable liner gets great reviews from almost everyone that buys it. There are always some nay-sayers. It may be a little more costly up front, but it saves you $$ over time. The liners are easy for daily spot cleaning. They soak up the urine so there’s no smell and wash easily in cold water. It has a great pocket that piggies love to hide in. These work great with Midwest cages.

2. Aspen Shavings 

If you’re looking for more traditional bedding than this is what you’ve been looking for. Aspen is hardwood so it’s better for your piggie’s lungs.  They are super absorbent and keep odors down nicely. Piggies love to burrow, chew, and popcorn (hop) in it! 

3. Kiln-dried Pine Shavings

If you are more of a traditionalist and you love the smell of pine, then this litter is perfect. Remember to only purchase Kiln-dried so the toxic oils have been removed.  

It’s a low-dust, and super absorbent choice for your little pig.  And it’s soft and easy to burrow through too. Another perk? Pine shavings are cheaper than aspen shavings.

4. Paper Bedding

If you want style in your cage – go no further. Not only is this product soft, and perfect for burrowing in, your piggies (and you) will love the colors it comes in too. 

The bedding is super absorbent and keeps odors to a minimum. It has a very low dust amount so it’s healthy too. Just make sure you use the actual paper bedding. 

5. Hemp Bedding

Green people are going to love this all natural alternative.  Hemp grows quickly and doesn’t need pesticides and fertilizer.  This makes it a healthy option for your piggie. It is seriously absorbent and has a mild but pleasant scent. Hemp bedding is soft for the feet. It is great for keeping your piggies cool in the summer and warm and cozy in the winter. And, it also composts fast for your garden or landscape needs. 

6. Chenille Bath Mat 

This choice is for the “outside-the-box” thinker. You won’t find this bedding option in the pet section. It’s a perfect answer for someone looking for a cost-effective, low-mess bedding

Its softness and super absorbency is a plus among users. And the color options are an added reason to fall in love with it. Simply shake it out and throw it in the laundry machine and replace with a clean one. 

7. Fleece Bedding 

Fleece is great and reusable. It’s less messy bedding for your piggie. It is also soft on their feet, super absorbent and easy to clean. There are mats with a waterproof liner that protect the cage from urine stains.

If you love the idea of color coordinating gorgeous patterns on comfy fabric for your piggies, and want to keep your home clean, fleece bedding is a great choice.

Fleece might need more cleanings than some of the other choices.  But, if you have a washing machine, then you’re good-to-go.

What Is The Best Type Of Bedding For Guinea Pigs?

The best type of bedding for guinea pigs is the type that is safe and makes both you and your piggie happy. Choosing the best type of bedding for your guinea pig depends on a bunch of different things. First of all, you need to think of what’s best for your little friend

1. Absorbency  

Is your guinea pig going to stay dry? No one wants to pick up a pig that has been having to sit in a wet mess. 

And trust me when I say that your furry friend won’t be happy either. This will also make cleaning up easier and who doesn’t want that?

2. Controls The Smell Of Urine   

The last thing you want is a stinky piggy environment. Not only that, but urine releases ammonia. When ammonia is breathed in, it can be unhealthy, for both the guinea pigs and your household.

3. Low/No Aromatic Oils

Does the bedding itself have a smell?  Some woods, like cedar and un-dried pine have natural oils in them.  These smells can become overwhelming. They are caused by a natural oil in the wood that is toxic for guinea pigs. 

This is another reason to be careful. There might be some other scented choices out there.  Just remember that little piggies’ noses are very sensitive so try to get unscented when you buy bedding for your guinea pig.

4. Comfortable And Soft

Is it comfortable?  Remember, this is his living space.  He might want to cuddle up and take a nap.  Do you think that it is soft enough for his feet?  Guinea Pig feet are sensitive, and they can get injured if it’s too rough.

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Advantages Of Having The Right Bedding For Your Guinea Pigs

There are many advantages to having the right bedding for your guinea pigs. The best is having a happy, healthy guinea pig which, in turn, will make you happy. Did you know there were other benefits as well? Let’s look at a few of these up closely

1. No Fly Strike

It is no secret that bad odors attract flies. The larvae of flies’ cause fly strike. So, if you want to avoid fly strike, you need to stay as odorless as possible. This can only be done with the right type of bedding.  A good bedding should be great at absorbing odors as well as urine.

2. Healthy Feet 

Coarse or chunky bedding can cause sores on a guinea pig’s feet.  These sores can get infected. Choose a soft bedding.  It shouldn’t be too rough and free from sharp sticks.   This will help prevent your furry friend’s feet from becoming hurt.

3. Health Respiratory System 

Dust and odors are very dangerous to your piggies. They can hurt the lungs of your guinea pigs. The right bedding will reduce both dust and odors. This will mean that your little piggie will remain healthier.  And a healthy pig is a happy pig!

Sawdust Versus Other Beddings:  Let’s Compare!

Let’s compare sawdust with other beddings.  The chart below is pretty straightforward.  It shows whether a bedding is safe or not.  It also shows comparable costing: 

Type of BeddingSafe?Cost?
SawdustNoLow
Kiln-Dried PineYesLow
Aspen ShavingsYesHigh
Carefresh Paper BeddingYesHigh
Toilet PaperNoLow

As you can see by the table, sawdust is low in cost.  But it is not safe. There are several other options that are priced low AND safer for your pet.  Buying a safe bedding is the best choice for everyone who has guinea pigs.

Wanna Give Your Piggies
the 5 STAR Treatment?

Stop getting dirty looks from your piggies, because you forgot to do something for them...AGAIN. These colorful, chore charts will help you keep track of when to feed your fuzz butts, clean their cages, and much more. 

FREE

Things To Remember About Guinea Pigs And Sawdust Bedding.

Remember, sawdust bedding is dangerous for guinea pigs. Is it soft?  Is it cost effective?  Yes it is.  But the dangers to your little friend pig are not worth it. The fine particles can be breathed in by guinea pigs. This will cause major lung problems for your little piggie.

It’s also messy and can cause allergies in family members. There are plenty of other options to choose from.  And with all the other safer options, there really is no reason to use it as your piggie’s bedding.

Best bedding for Guinea pigs | Odor control | Wood shavings | Fleece. (2021, July 3). Guinea Piggles. https://www.guineapiggles.com/guinea-pig-bedding/#unsafe-bedding

Best bedding for Guinea pigs | Odor control | Wood shavings | Fleece. (2021, July 3). Guinea Piggles. https://www.guineapiggles.com/guinea-pig-bedding/#unsafe-bedding

Can Guinea pigs eat toilet paper? (2017, April 15). Online Guinea Pig Care. https://www.onlineguineapigcare.com/can-guinea-pigs-eat-toilet-paper/

Guinea pig bedding, bedding. (2014, February 21). The Guinea Pig Manual | All about Guinea Pig Care!. https://www.guineapigmanual.com/guinea-pig-bedding/

Pet tips library. (2017, July 24). Tri-County Humane Society. https://tricountyhumanesociety.org/pet-resources/pet-tips-library/critter-tips.html/article/2017/07/24/guinea-pigs-101

What kind of housing do Guinea pigs need? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-kind-of-housing-do-guinea-pigs-need/

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