Can Kiln-Dried Pine Bedding Kill Your Guinea Pig? (Find Out Now)

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Guinea pigs need three basic things: cage, food, and bedding. Which probably makes you wonder: Can guinea pigs use kiln-dried pine bedding?

Yes, guinea pigs can use kiln-dried pine bedding. Kiln-dried pine is safe for guinea pigs because the strong aroma and bacteria in pine have been removed. Unlike regular pine, kiln-dried pine is also dust-free. Kiln-dried pine is a good bedding for your guinea pigs because it’s very absorbent. 

a picture of a guinea pig wondering if kiln dried bedding

Kiln-dried pine bedding is recommended since it’s light, soft, and easy to clean. When your piggie pees in it, it sinks to the bottom, thus, leaving the top dry.

It’s less expensive than fleece or aspen wood shavings and also decomposable

So don’t worry and go ahead and get some for your fur baby.

What Is Kiln-Dried Pine?

Kiln-dried pine has gone through a special drying process that’s done using a kiln. The process differs from air-drying wood. The thermal process removes the phenols and bacteria in the pine. And makes the pine safe for use. 

Pine, like cedar, has a strong scent caused by the aromatic oils (phenols) in it. Without kiln-drying, it is not recommended to use as bedding.

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Is Kiln-Dried Pine Toxic To Guinea Pigs?

a tip about guinea pigs using kiln dried pine bedding

Kiln-dried pine isn’t toxic to guinea pig. Unlike pine shavings, kiln-dried pine is actually safe for piggies. Kiln-drying removes all the aromatic oils from pine. It also removes the dust from the shavings that cause respiratory issues for guinea pigs.

Pine actually contains aromatic oils that are very harmful to guinea pigs. These aromatic oils are hydrocarbons known as phenols. They are known to cause respiratory issues in your cavies.

The phenols are that pleasant smell you get from pine wood or cedar.  Smells great to you, right? You would think the nice aroma would mask the odor of pee thus making for great piggie bedding, right? Unfortunately, no. 

The smell of kiln-dried pine can be harmful to your cavy’s respiratory health. You will find many people online who are against the use of kiln-dried pine shavings because of the phenols. But don’t worry, because many cavy experts say that kiln-dried pine is safe to use as guinea pig bedding.

As long as the pine has been kiln-dried, the phenols have been removed and it’s safe for your cavy.

What’s The Difference Between Kiln-Dried Pine and Regular Pine?

Pine beddings come in two types: kiln-dried pine bedding and regular, scented pine. Kiln-dried is safe to use as bedding but regular pine or scented pine isn’t. The scent from the pine contains phenols which are aromatic oils.  That’s not healthy for piggies.

Here is a little run down of the pros and cons of kiln-dried pine and scented pine for piggie bedding.

Pine is a nice smell, but it can be dangerous to breathe in the fumes from the pine for a long time – even for people. This is especially true for pets since they might spend a lot of time on the bedding.

As it is, pine is discouraged as bedding for your piggies. But once it’s been kiln dried, the harmful substances are eliminated.

And just like that, you get a cheaper alternative to Aspen or fleece for bedding that is just as good.

Do Other Guinea Pig Parents Use Kiln-Dried Pine Bedding With Their Guinea Pigs?

I couldn’t just come to a conclusion without consulting pig parents. So I went researching and the answer is yes. Other guinea pig parents use kiln-dried bedding with their guinea pigs.

I manually surveyed 108 guinea pig parents to find out if they use kiln-dried pine beddings for their guinea pigs.

About 76 (70%) of pig parents used kiln-dried pine shavings as beddings for their piggies. They all loved it and said it was a cheaper and better alternative to the beddings they had been using.

One pet parent couldn’t afford fleece any longer so they shifted to kiln-dried pine.  Another parent only used kiln-dried pine beddings in the cold months. During the warm months, she used a different type of bedding.

The people who used kiln-dried pine shavings all loved it. They praised it for its absorbency which kept the enclosure dry. Another thing that they loved was that the pine shavings are so cheap.

27 (25%) of the pet parents didn’t use kiln-dried pine shavings. They were a bit nervous about the smell and bacteria in pine shavings – even the ones that were kiln-dried. They didn’t trust kiln-dried pine shavings.

Here’s a look at the popular types of beddings the respondents use:

  • Carefresh Paper Bedding: About 11 (10%) of respondents use Carefresh. It’s a popular brand and works well by absorbing pee and hiding the smells. But, it’s very pricey which probably explains why so few people use it.
  • Aspen: 3 (3%) of the respondents used Aspen wood shavings. This is more expensive than kiln-dried pine wood. But it is better in quality and one of the best beddings for guinea pigs.
  • Fleece Beddings: Fleece beddings were fairly popular with 3% of the respondents currently using them. Like Aspen wood shavings, they’re more expensive but don’t need replacement as often. They’re very convenient since you can wash and reuse them for months.
  • Old towels: Other pet parents used old towels. Many chose white ones so that they could easily pick out the poop droppings of their babies. Old towels were convenient because they saved money.
  • Newspaper layers topped with hay: Although this wasn’t as popular as the others, there were some pet parents who still used it. They layered newspaper with soil and on top, they put hay. The issue with this was the need for frequent changing since it’s not particularly absorbent.

What Are Some Advantages Of Using Kiln-Dried Pine For Guinea Pig Bedding?

To know the advantages, I surveyed the pet parents who used kiln-dried pine bedding. I surveyed a total of 168 pet parents who used kiln-dried pine shavings.

I noticed that many of the respondents had been using kiln-dried pine bedding for a long time. About 92 (55%) had been using kiln-dried pine shavings for years. They seemed to have picked it and stuck with it.

One pet parent only stopped using the kiln-dried pine after the piggie was sick and used a white towel as bedding. They wanted to track the piggie’s defecation and urine output.

76 (45%) of the respondents had just begun using the bedding.  There were a lot of positive responses after using kiln-dried pine shavings. One pet parent said that he tried to change to Aspen but his piggie got sick and he had to change back.

Here’s the main highlights from the survey. It could be helpful as you decide if you want to try kiln-dried pine bedding.

  • Kiln-dried pine shavings are great beddings and are rising in popularity. Many pet parents were asking about it hoping to get it for their piggies.
  • Some pet parents do not know that there is a difference between regular pine and kiln-dried pine. They stay away fearing for their little cavies’ health.
  • Some pet parents used both kiln-dried pine shavings and fleece. They put the pine shavings in the playpen and the fleece in the sleeping lofts.
  • Since some companies claim to be kiln-dried when they aren’t, you should sniff the beddings after buying. There should not be any scent of pine left in it. It should smell like normal wood. Even if it’s wet.
  • Your piggie could also be allergic to wood chips. Be careful of this. If they are, move on to the next bedding.
  • Kiln-dried pine shavings do a decent job of masking the smell in the cage and are fairly absorbent. The fact that you don’t have to change the entire bedding every time is great. Many pet parents removed the parts that were wet and replaced them.

Here are some more general advantages of kiln-dried pine shavings as guinea pig bedding;

1. Easy To Find

This is one of the best things about kiln-dried pine shavings! It’s very accessible. Go to your local pet store and you will find it. You can order it online as well. Make sure you pick the popular brands. It’s tried and tested. It’s safer.

2. Absorbs Well

If you have concerns with the absorbency of the other type of beddings, give kiln-dried pine a try. It absorbs very well. When your piggies pee, it goes under keeping the top dry. The same thing happens when they poop.

3. Low / No Odor

Kiln-drying removes the aromatic oils leaving the pine odorless. This makes it safe for your piggies since the aroma is harmful. The shavings also cover up the odor of urine quite well. 

4. Doesn’t Require A Washing Machine

Are you tired of washing fleece and towels? Your washing machine has probably had it rough. The best thing about pine bedding is that there is no washing involved. Remember to replace places the patches when they get wet. 

5. Soft and Comfortable

One of the rules of piggie bedding is to make it soft and comfortable. The feet of the cavies are especially delicate. Kiln-dried pine is light, fluffy, and soft. Unlike beddings like hay, it is comfortable for your piggie to run and roll around it.

6. Inexpensive

If you want to save some money or are running low on funds, kiln-dried pine is the way to go. A lot of pet parents actually chose it after they found themselves unable to afford Aspen and Fleece.

Here are a few affordable options to get started:

7. Safe For Guinea Pigs

Kiln-dried pine beddings are odorless.  Your piggie will not be inhaling any phenols (aromatic oils).  It’s very safe for guinea pigs.

8. Dust-Free

Wood shavings tend to have this problem when used as beddings. But this is a non-issue with kiln-dried pine beddings. The kiln-drying process eliminates most of the dust.

9. Pine Shavings Can Be Composted

Are you an environmentally conscious person? If so, then kiln-dried pine is the way to go.  Although this doesn’t happen as fast as you might want, pine shavings can be composted.

10. Makes It Easier to Keep The Cage Clean

Pine bedding is made of soft, light wood shavings so it’s very easy to clean the cage. Although it can get messy since it can spread around, it isn’t as messy as other beddings such as paper.

11. Doesn’t Need As Much Spot Cleaning

Kiln-dried pine bedding is very absorbent. So the urine doesn’t spread as much as it does with other beddings such as paper. The spots you will need to replace as small and they also take a while before soaking up.

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What Are Some Disadvantages Of Using Kiln-Dried Pine Bedding For Guinea Pigs?

a tip about guinea pigs using kiln dried pine bedding

The thing with piggie beddings is that each has its own downsides. So when you do shop, ensure you pick the brands that are popular and with good reviews just to be safe. If it’s too cheap, it’s likely to be of poor quality containing phenols and probably dust.

1. Bad For Long Haired Haired Guinea Pigs

Kiln-dried pine beddings is made of wood shavings. They are flaky and light and stick everywhere. If your cavy has long hair, they will likely carry it around. It’s not comfortable for the shavings to get tangled with their hair. It can pull out hair or break their skin.

2. Can Irritate Guinea Pig Skin

Since they are wood shavings, kiln-dried pine has edges.  As you cavy rolls around in the bedding, they can rub against the skin and irritate it. 

It can be worse if it’s damp so ensure to change the spots often.

3. Needs To Be Constantly Bought

Wood shavings need to be replaced often since they are disposable.  Despite the reasonable costs, constant buying can be strenuous. Especially compared to fleece you can use for months.

4. Bad For Piggies With Wounds Or Stitches

It’s not advisable to use wood shavings if your piggie has wounds or stitches. They can break or further injure the wounds causing infections and pain.

Use soft and smooth beddings such as fleece beddings for your piggie instead.

5. Bedding Can Be Messy

Wood shavings move around a lot. To be fair, in general, piggie beds get messy. Fleece is the only bedding that doesn’t get as messy. You can make a wall around the cage to reduce the mess.

6. Can Be Bad For Skinny Pigs

Skinny pigs are as sensitive to shavings as hairless pigs. The shavings are hard and rough on their skin which doesn’t have enough protection. For these breeds, find soft materials such as fleece.

How To Make Sure Your Pine Bedding Is Safe For Your Guinea Pigs

a funny meme about guinea pigs using kiln dried bedding

Safety is of utmost concern to you as a pet parent. Here are a few factors to look out for when selecting kiln-dried pine bedding:

1.Kiln-Dried

This is the most important thing when it comes to pine beddings. Make sure the pine bedding is kiln-dried. You can check the packaging for this.

Kiln-drying removes most of these aromatic oils from pine thus making it safe to be used as bedding. Remember, only kiln-dried pine is safe to be used as bedding for guinea pigs.

2. Dust-Free

Guinea pigs are very vulnerable to respiratory diseases and infections. Check the packaging to ensure the shavings are dust-free. Most popular brands are 99.9% dust-free which is safe for use.

3. Soft And Without Rough Edges

Your typical wood shavings will have rough edges. But remember if they are to be used as beddings for your little cavies, the rough edges should be smoothed out. 

Check the softness of the bedding before you buy. If it’s soft enough for you, your piggies will be most comfortable.

4. Odor Control

Scented shavings are not the best or even safe for piggies. It can cause respiratory issues.

Ensure that the pine beddings you are buying can mask the smell of urine. Your piggies are much safer in cages that aren’t stuffy.

5. Check Bedding For Moisture and Mold

Moisture and mold are hazardous for cavies.  It poses a threat to their vulnerable respiratory systems. It can also cause skin problems and infections on their feet. Change out the wet spots with new and dry shavings to protect your cavy.

6. Make Sure Cage Is Well-Ventilated

Piggies’ cages should be well ventilated. They pee and poop in their pens all day so it’s not good to trap them in there with the smell. Good ventilation will reduce the respiratory issues your piggies might develop.

7. No Baking Soda Added

Avoid buying pine shavings that have added baking soda. It can be an irritant to your pets.

8. Avoid Using With Hairless or Long Haired Guinea Pigs

Pine shavings are not compatible with hairless or long-haired cavies. Use fleece since it is smoother and softer on the skin. It also doesn’t get tangled in their hair.

Pine shavings are safe for guinea pigs when they are kiln-dried and dust-free. Avoid using them on hairless or long-haired guinea pigs. Ventilate the cage well to reduce respiratory problems.

Kiln Dried Pine Bedding Versus Other Beddings: Which Is Better?

a tip about guinea pigs using kiln dried pine bedding

You’re probably wondering what’s the difference between kiln dried bedding and other types of beddings or cage liners that you can use with your fur babies. Don’t worry, I got you.

Here’s a brief comparison table to help you make your decision.

Fleece blankets are the safest but the most expensive bedding for guinea pigs. Although there is the issue of constant washing. Some pet owners complained the blankets had damaged their washing machines.

As for wood shavings, Aspen is usually the go-to for many pet parents. Pine is like cedar containing harmful phenols. Kiln-dried pine is just as safe as Aspen and is much cheaper as well. So many parents chose it as their bedding.

Carefresh paper bedding was widely used. It has more absorbency than wood shavings but is more expensive and needs replacement just as often. For pet parents who couldn’t keep up with the costs, they went with kiln-dried pine shavings.

Sawdust is considered incredibly harmful for your pet. Many pet owners said their guinea pigs succumbed to respiratory diseases after using it. Although some resorted to using it due to money constraints, they didn’t like it at all.

Is Wood Bedding Good For Guinea Pigs?

When properly prepared, wood bedding is quite good for guinea pigs. The preparation has to ensure that it is dry, soft, and fluffy. All the sharp pieces should be removed, and the dust should be extracted as well.

Is Regular Pine Toxic For Guinea Pigs?

Pine is highly toxic for guinea pigs. It contains;

  • Phenols which are aromatic oils 
  • Bacteria cause respiratory and fungal diseases in cavies
  • Dust particles can cause lung infections

Kiln-dried pine is the only type of pine bedding that is safe for guinea pigs. The process removes all the aromatic oils and bacteria making pine safe for use.

Always make sure the pine shavings you purchase are kiln-dried, dust-free, and odorless.

Can Guinea Pigs Use Pine Pellets As Bedding?

Pine pellets are safe for guinea pigs if they have been kiln-dried and there are no chemicals or additives. Pet parents who’ve used them say they are effective and last long.

Why Is It Important To Choose The Right Bedding For Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs spend most of their time in their cages. So, it’s important to make it as comfortable and safe as possible. You want your little ones to feel secure and at home in their cages.

Choosing the right bedding is very important in taking care of the health of your piggie. Here are a few reasons why you should choose the right bedding;

1. Avoid Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot is an excruciatingly painful infection in guinea pigs’ footpads. Ensure that the bedding can allow your piggies’ feet to stay clean, prevent bad smells, and control moisture.

2. Prevent Respiratory Diseases

Guinea pigs have a very sensitive respiratory system. Since they spend a lot of time in their cages, it is important to choose good bedding. The bedding shouldn’t have scents and dust that cause irritation and lung infections.

Choose bedding that dries fast, is aroma-free, and is dust-free.

3. Stop Fly Strike

Guinea pigs are susceptible to a condition known as flystrike. Flystrike occurs when flies lay their eggs on a guinea pig’s skin. The eggs hatch into larvae, and the larvae begin to feed on the guinea pig’s flesh.

This can cause severe irritation, infection, and even death. Plus, it’s very painful. There’s several factors that can increase a guinea pig’s risk of flystrike. But, the main factor is a dirty cage.

That’s why it’s so important to keep your guinea pig’s cage clean. You need to choose bedding that doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria. The bedding should also absorb urine well and stay dry to prevent flystrike.

4. Avoid Bacterial Infections

Good bedding should prevent bacteria buildup. Bacterial infections are harmful to piggies and cause many issues such as bumblefoot. It’s good to get bedding that is absorbent and controls humidity.

5. Save You Money and Time

You don’t want to spend most of your time and money on bedding. You have other very important matters, you know, like food and toys for your little fur baby?

Good bedding should be affordable to you. It should also be able to last a while. That’s why you should always pick the ones with good absorbency. If you are unsure, check what other pet parents are using and their recommendations. 

6. Depression

Cavies are sensitive and vulnerable to depression. Bedding that causes them distress will trigger or worsen depression. Make sure the bedding is comfortable, soft, and light. Your piggies should be able to nuzzle and roll around in it without hurting themselves.

7. Prevent Urinary Tract Infections

Piggies are very vulnerable to urinary tract infections (UTI). If their beddings are damp, they will contract UTIs. Choose bedding that is not only absorbent but filters poop and urine to the bottom leaving the top dry.

For this, Carefresh paper beddings,  kiln-dried pine, Aspen shavings, and fleece are quite good.

What Bedding Should You Not Use For Guinea Pigs?

When it comes down to it, there are some beddings you should never use for guinea pigs. Here’s a few examples:

1.Cedar

Cedar releases aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) that are linked to respiratory diseases in guinea pigs. Unlike pine, kiln-drying does not remove the toxic substances hence it is not advisable to use as bedding.

2. Sawdust

Some pet parents call using sawdust for your piggie beddings borderline animal abuse. Although it might sound extreme, they speak from experience. Many piggies have succumbed to respiratory illnesses caused by the use of sawdust as bedding.

Sawdust has fine dust that your piggies will inhale, lots of it at that, which will cause lung infections.

3. Disposable Puppy Pads

Some people opt for disposable puppy pads. However, there’s one main reason why they’re not the best choice for your guinea pig. Even though they’re very absorbent, they’re made of material that could kill your piggie if they eat it.

It’s better to just use fleece, paper bedding, or kiln-dried pine as bedding. Your piggies are less likely to try to nibble on these items, and they’re much safer if they do.

4. Paper Towels

Paper towels are not a good bedding for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs need a bedding that’ll easily absorb their urine.

Although paper towels are absorbent to a certain extent, they won’t do the job as well as a bedding that’s specifically designed to absorb urine. Not to mention, paper towels are expensive to replace.

Sure, paper towels could be used in a pinch, if you found yourself in a bind. But, it’s best to just use them as a temporary solution until you can get your hands on some good bedding.

If you are looking for a bedding for your guinea pig, try using something like Carefresh, kiln-dried pine or fleece. These beddings are much more comfortable for guinea pigs and will help keep their sleeping area clean and smelling fresh.

5. Regular Towels

Most people would never think to use regular cotton towels as bedding for their guinea pigs, but some do. After all, they’re comfortable and soft, so what’s the harm?

The reality is that regular cotton towels can actually be quite harmful to guinea pigs. The material isn’t as absorbent as it needs to be to keep your fur babies’ enclosure dry.

Plus, guinea pigs are very active creatures, and the loose fibers of a cotton towel can quickly become tangled around their feet, toes or legs, leading to injury.

Regular, cotton towels are sometimes used as bedding when a guinea pig is recovering from surgery. That’s to prevent loose shaving or bedding from getting into the healing incision. Or if a pet parent needs to track how much their guinea pig is pooping or peeing when their sick.

But, for the most part, you should steer clear of using regular towels as bedding for your guinea pigs. There’s many other options available that are specifically designed for them and will provide a much safer environment.

Best Kiln Dried Pine Bedding Options For Guinea Pigs

If you are looking to buy kiln-dried bedding for your piggie, here are some of the best options for you. They are popular and have positive reviews so you don’t have to worry about safety.

Living World Small Animal Bedding Material

Click here to get high-quality bedding for your cavy. It ticks all the boxes for absorbency, odor control, and comfort. It’s soft and comfortable for your little friend.

Small Pet Select All Natural Pellet Bedding

Click here to buy some kiln-dried pine pellets right now or plan your purchase. These pellets have increased absorbency and they don’t have any additives or irritants. They’ve been kiln-dried to remove the toxins and are recyclable and compostable. 

Plus, pellets last FOREVER.  You only have to change them out every other month or so.

Wanna Give Your Piggies
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Things To Remember About Guinea Pigs and Kiln Dried Bedding

Guinea pigs are vulnerable to respiratory illnesses. According to Animal Welfare Research Arena, about 40% of guinea pig parents reported that their piggies had contracted a respiratory disease at least once in their lifetime.

When selecting bedding for your piggie, stay away from scented or aromatic beddings. The scents and aromas are harmful to guinea pigs and cause respiratory problems.

Kiln-dried pine beddings are very different from regular pine shavings. If pine is not kiln-dried, it contains aromatic oils (phenols) that are harmful to your piggie.

When buying pine beddings for your piggie, ensure that they are; kiln-dried, dust-free, unscented, and contain no additives or chemicals.

Guinea pig bedding should be dry and soft. Their skin and feet are very sensitive to sharp objects. Dampness will cause bumblefoot and attract flies.

When good bedding, the biggest issue is absorbency. The more absorbent the bedding is, the more comfortable your fur baby is.

Roberts-Steel, S., Oxley, J. A., Carroll, A., & Wills, A. P. (2019). Frequency of Owner-Reported Bacterial Infections in Pet Guinea Pigs. Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 9(9), 649. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090649

The manufacture, shipping and receiving and quality control of rodent bedding materials. (n.d.). NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS). https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19980197471

Kawakami, K., Takeuchi, T., Yamaguchi, S., Ago, A., Nomura, M., Gonda, T., & Komemushi, S. (2003). Preference of guinea pigs for bedding materials: wood shavings versus paper cutting sheet. Experimental animals, 52(1), 11–15. https://doi.org/10.1538/expanim.52.11

Potgieter, F. J., & Wilke, P. I. (1996). The dust content, dust generation, ammonia production, and absorption properties of three different rodent bedding types. Laboratory animals, 30(1), 79–87. https://doi.org/10.1258/002367796780744893 

Purdue University. (n.d.). Care for Guinea Pigs.https://vet.purdue.edu

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

O’Rourke D. P. (2004). Disease Problems of Guinea Pigs. Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents, 245–254. https://doi.org/10.1016/B0-72-169377-6/50026-5

Guinea pigs – Their most common illnesses. (2019, July 29). FOUR PAWS International – Animal Welfare Organisation. https://www.four-paws.org/our-stories/publications-guides/guinea-pigs-their-most-common-illnesses

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