Whether you’ve been raising guinea pigs for years or even if you’re just starting out with your very first pet, creating the right environment for your guinea pig is the most important step in giving them a long, happy, and healthy life.
A big part of that process is getting the best bedding. While the exact type of bedding may vary based on a lot of factors—how many guinea pigs you have, where you live, even the temperature of your home—there are still a few constants that will always hold true.
Overall, the best bedding for guinea pigs is one that fits your specific lifestyle and needs as well as it fits those of your small, furry friends!
How To Choose Best Bedding For Guinea Pigs
The best bedding for guinea pigs is the one that suits you and your pets equally. There may be different requirements for each pet family, so you should look for one that works well with your lifestyle as well as what your guinea pigs need.
For example, if you suffer from allergies or you notice that your guinea pigs are prone to rashes and irritated skin, you may want to steer clear of scented beddings. While these beddings will mask some of that distinctive guinea pig smell, they may also contain chemicals that aggravate your allergies or those of your guinea pigs.
If you have a busy schedule without a lot of time to clean out your guinea pig enclosure, look for bedding that’s super absorbent and designed to last longer. While you still should be cleaning the cage about once a week, extra-long-lasting bedding will give you a few days of “wiggle room” in case you find yourself running out of time.
Depending on your cleanup style, you may want to look for biodegradable or compostable beddings. Not only can these be disposed of more easily than the alternative beddings, but they can also help you kickstart your next gardening project or outdoor living improvement! Take a little bit of time before you buy any bedding to think about what, exactly, you’ll need for yourself as well as for the needs of your four-legged friends!
Advantages And Benefits Of Quality Bedding
Perhaps the biggest advantage of good bedding material is that it will help your guinea pigs feel safer, more confident, and more at ease in their environment. Guinea pigs are naturally curious creatures that love to dig, burrow, and explore, and finding the right bedding can go a long way towards making sure they feel secure enough to do just that.
Good bedding can also help you as the owner! Whether it be through covering up the typically strong scent of guinea pigs or just by giving you the extra time and space to enjoy your guinea pigs without having to constantly stress out over changing their enclosure, the right bedding will take some of the stress off of your shoulders.
A high-quality bedding material will also improve your guinea pigs’ health. If you’re using lower quality or less pet-friendly material as bedding, it can actively hurt a guinea pig’s skin, fur, or feet. Dusty particulates or sharp fibers can easily damage the delicate respiratory systems of humans and guinea pigs alike, so finding a better option can give your furry friends a longer, healthier life.
Every pet owner’s top priority is the health and well-being of their pets. The greatest benefit that good, high-quality bedding provides is the reassurance that you’re doing everything you can to keep your guinea pigs living longer, better lives as long as they’re in your home or apartment!
What To Look For
For starters, look for a high-quality base for your guinea pig bedding or substrate. Typically, guinea pig bedding is made of fleece, paper, or wood fibers, and each material has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.
Fleece bedding is easier to wash and reuse, so look for solid-construction fleece bedding pads if you have multiple guinea pigs or anticipate having to clean the cage often. Because it can be rewashed and used multiple times, it also tends to be cheaper in the long run than more traditional “use and discard” styles of bedding.
Paper bedding may not be as soft as fleece bedding, but it still is gentle enough on your guinea pigs’ feet. It also is extremely absorbent and easy to clean. All you have to do is scoop out the soiled bedding and throw it away, and you’re good to go! Most paper beddings are typically biodegradable or made of recycled materials.
Finally, wood bedding typically has a natural scent to it that doesn’t rely on harsh chemicals or unnatural additives. As a result, you can get extra odor protection without having to resort to potentially harmful substances.
Look for the type of substrate that matches your own pet-raising style most closely, and go from there. Look at factors like absorbency, vet safety ratings, and the amount of dust that each new type of bedding generates when spread out.
What To Look Out For
As mentioned above, scented beddings tend to be slightly dangerous when it comes to sensitive guinea pigs or sensitive owners. Look out for any scented beddings that claim to be completely odor-absorbing, and check the ingredient lists of any scented beddings you’re considering buying!
Beyond that, even natural wood beddings can be a little bit shaky. Certain types of wood, including cedar, maybe a popular choice for small animal beddings due to the pleasant, outdoorsy scent. However, cedar and other aromatic woods are high in phenols—the natural oils that give them their characteristic smell and also stop bugs from munching down on those trees in the wild.
Unfortunately, phenolic compounds are extremely toxic for guinea pigs. Even if your guinea pig isn’t in the habit of chewing up their bedding, the fumes from the cedar wood can still deal a lot of damage to their livers. If your guinea pig’s liver is damaged, they won’t be able to properly filter the blood in their cardiovascular system, and they could develop serious health conditions.
You should also keep an eye out for the amount of dust your bedding generates. Breathing in dust or small particulates is bad for most creatures, humans included, so the best bedding for guinea pigs is one that creates a very small amount of dust or one that is described as being completely dust-free! (These are usually fleece or wooden based beddings.)
How Do I Use My Bedding?
Fortunately, most guinea pig beddings are pretty easy to use. Whether you use a single fleece pad or a more traditional scattered bedding type, setup and use are fairly simple, especially once you’ve cleaned your guinea pig enclosure a few times and have a little bit of experience under your belt.
For a large fleece pad, make sure that your pad fits the cage as closely as possible. Put down a layer of “puppy pads” or some other absorbent material first, and then place the pad down directly on top of that first moisture-absorbing layer. Smooth the pad so that it lies flat and return any extra accessories to the enclosure. Once a week, remove the pad and wash it in a standard washing machine, and then allow it to air-dry before returning it to the cage.
For scattered substrate bedding, remove all accessories (and guinea pigs) from the enclosure. Use gloves or other cleaning supplies to scoop out the soiled bedding, and throw it in the trash can or on the compost pile, depending on what type of bedding you use! Spray and wipe down the cage with a pet-friendly cleaning solution, let it dry, and then scatter a new layer of bedding directly onto the cage floor. Make sure that you cover the floor as completely and evenly as possible before returning accessories and guinea pigs.
What Else Will I Need?
The main thing that guinea pigs need to be happy and healthy is space and plenty of it! The ASPCA recommends that guinea pigs get between seven and seven-and-a-half feet of space per animal.
For most of the guinea pig cages that you buy at a pet store, this can quickly become impractical. A good way to get around the limited space of your house or apartment is to invest in an enclosure that has multiple levels! This allows your guinea pigs to get the elbow room that they need without taking up half of your house!
Guinea pigs, like every other creature on the planet, need easy access to clean, fresh food and water. Make sure you’re changing out your guinea pig’s water regularly, and make sure that there are multiple “stations” inside their enclosure where they can go to get a quick sip of water or bite of food!
Finally, guinea pigs are smart, curious animals, so make sure that they’ve got plenty to keep them busy! Toys, tools, and even obstacles can help them spend their time without getting bored or frustrated with their surroundings.
For more information on setting up a guinea pig enclosure, check out some of the many helpful guides available online. Whatever else you put into your guinea pig enclosure, however, finding the best bedding for guinea pigs and their owners alike can go a long way towards keeping your four-legged friends happy, healthy, and full of energy to explore!
The Best Bedding For Guinea Pigs
There are a ton of excellent bedding choices available on the market today. As guinea pigs become more and more popular among small pet lovers, the variety of beddings and substrates can be a little bit overwhelming at times.
We’ve found seven beddings for guinea pigs that stand out from the crowd, but this is by no means the end of the list. Use the beddings below as a springboard to start your search, or check out the unique features and benefits of each individual bedding in order to get an idea of what you and your guinea pigs need!
Carefresh Small Pet Bedding is made of a soft, white cellulose fiber that absorbs liquid without shedding dust or other irritants that could get under your guinea pigs’ skin. Prior to shipping out each batch, Carefresh heat-tests the bedding up to 380 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure that the bedding you receive is clean and sterile and ready to be used!
Ammonia is the key ingredient in any animal’s urine that leaves such an unpleasant odor, and Carefresh works to cut that odor down at the source. The long strand fibers of the bedding prevent the formation of large ammonia deposits. This means that the bedding is actively working at all times to reduce the amount of odor that your guinea pigs can produce.
Because of its natural, hypoallergenic composition and easy cleanup, the Carefresh Small Pet Bedding is actually one of our favorites out of all the comparable beddings listed below!
- Dry construction makes it twice as absorbent as shavings-based brands, helps keep your guinea pigs clean and dry for longer than competing brands
- Odor control guaranteed to last at least ten days, which gives you more time between cleaning appointments
- Reclaimed natural fiber is gentle on guinea pig skin and fur, protects against irritants
- Because each batch of bedding is individually prepared, there may be some discrepancies in quality between different batches or shipments.
If you’re looking for super-absorbent bedding that won’t expose your guinea pigs to any strange materials or unhealthy chemicals, Kaytee Clean and Cozy Small Animal Bedding is a pretty great fit! The tight-packed bedding is actually made of a paper solution, which makes it extremely absorbent while still being totally safe for even the most curious guinea pigs.
Despite its absorbent nature, the Clean and Cozy bedding still has a very high odor control rating. The bedding arrives tightly packed in a compact package and may take a little bit of time to expand upon opening. Once it’s expanded, however, you should have more than enough of the soft, fluffy bedding to suit your pet’s needs!
Because it is so absorbent, this bedding requires a slightly less vigilant cleaning routine for pet owners, which makes it a great fit for the guinea pig owner with a busy schedule.
- Covers odors and prevents buildup of waste with proper cleaning
- Paper-based composition creates highly absorbent bedding, which is great for pet homes with multiple guinea pigs
- Paper composition also creates safe bedding for guinea pigs that may like to nibble on their bedding from time to time
- Due to its unique composition, the bedding may sometimes produce more dust than comparable brands, which can be irritating for pets and pet owners alike.
If you want bedding with a soft, gentle scent that doesn’t rely on a lot of harsh oils or additives to provide a pleasant aroma, then So Phresh Natural Aspen Small Animal Bedding checks both those boxes!
Made of a special aspen wood blend, the bedding has a clean, earthy scent that helps cover animal odors while still absorbing any messes that your guinea pigs leave behind. The best bedding for guinea pigs is one that’s designed with the animals in mind, and this bedding is soft enough to be comfortable on even the most sensitive paws.
The naturally absorbent qualities of aspen wood make this a great fit for small pet lovers who are also worried about the environment—the all-wooden blend of this bedding means that it’s completely biodegradable and both pet and environment-friendly!
- Oil-free for guinea pigs with sensitive skin, with a pleasant wooden scent that helps mask pet odors for longer
- Bedding is fully biodegradable and can be composted by the eco-friendly pet lover
- Natural composition that’s odor-repellent while still being gentle on the delicate skin, paws, and respiratory systems of small animals
- The sizes of wood shavings may vary, ranging from larger shavings that may give your guinea pigs splinters to flecks of dust that may be potentially dangerous for both you and your pets to inhale.
The second offering on this list from Kaytee, the Kaytee Soft Granule Bedding takes its cue from other wood-based pet beddings and kicks things up a notch or two by providing loose, pellet-style bedding for all your small animal needs.
Technically, the granules are made from wood fibers—specifically, the wood fibers that have already been processed by paper companies but passed over because of their size or shape or general unsuitability. Kaytee takes these wood fibers and transforms them into soft, gentle bedding that is still super-absorbent while protecting your guinea pig’s delicate feet, skin, and hair.
Because the bedding is made from compostable wood fibers, cleanup is easier than it can be with comparable beddings. Whether you flush the extra or use it in a composter, Kaytee Soft Granule Bedding is just as easy to clean as it is to use!
- Completely biodegradable, can easily be used as mulch or in a composting bin for gardeners or eco-conscious pet owners
- Soft blend of reclaimed wood fibers is gentle on pet feet while still absorbing plenty of mess
- Wooden composition creates a pleasant, natural scent without relying on harsh chemicals, oils, or additives
- Some of the granules may stick between your guinea pig’s feet, and the gravel-like quality of the bedding can lead to a loud scratching noise from particularly active guinea pigs.
So Phresh seems to have a lock on making absorbent paper bedding for small animals like guinea pigs, and the So Phresh Scented Crumbled Paper Small Animal Bedding is no exception! Instead of paper strand, the crumbled paper bedding provides small, pellet-like granules that have been crumpled and rolled down to size.
This loose texture makes it a great fit for guinea pigs who like to dig and explore their surroundings, and the paper composition itself makes it a super-absorbent match for even the toughest guinea pig families.
What sets this bedding apart, however, is the soft, natural scent that helps your home feel cleaner and brighter! The bedding uses baking soda to create an allergen-free, all-natural scent that helps fight back any unpleasant guinea pig odors.
- Like the previous So Phresh entry, paper composition provides super-absorbent bedding that still breaks down easily and doesn’t irritate most small animals
- Baking soda provides clean, bright scent in order to further mask any pet odors and leave the home smelling fresh for days on end
- Bedding is non-allergenic and should be perfectly safe to use around both small animals and small children
- If your guinea pig has particularly sensitive skin, fur, or nails, you may want to stay away from scented beddings, as they can sometimes irritate the skin and lead to rashes.
If you like the absorbent qualities of paper beddings but are still worried about overly-processed wood fibers or the dust that a lot of paper beddings can generate, the Fiber Core Small Pet Eco-Bedding lays all of those concerns to rest.
The paper used in Fiber Core’s environmentally friendly bedding has been specially rated by the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit organization that oversees the safe, natural, and responsible processing of trees and associated wood products.
Fiber Core bedding is completely biodegradable, super-absorbent, and natural enough to go easy on pet owners and pets alike. Your guinea pigs will love the soft, all-natural blend of wood chips and fibers that will let them dig and explore their enclosure without fear of harsh products or sharp wooden fibers lurking beneath!
- Recycled paper certified by Forest Stewardship Council guarantees a clean, safe environment for guinea pigs to run and play
- Triple action odor control fights back against the natural ammonia buildup from animal waste and feeding behaviors
- Unique composition makes for hypoallergenic and respiratory-friendly bedding without any of the dust or shedding typically associated with paper-based beddings
- The loose texture and natural scent may encourage nesting and burrowing, which can be a bit of a struggle for pet parents who are fighting to keep all of their guinea pig’s bedding inside the enclosure!
The last entry on this list, Vitakraft Fresh World Ultra Strength Small Animal Bedding is another great paper-based bedding that packs plenty of absorbing power. It sets itself apart from the crowd due to its sheer longevity—while most beddings need to be changed every seven to ten days, Vitakraft Fresh World bedding keeps its absorbent and odor-masking qualities for a whopping fourteen days!
Designed to rapidly absorb liquids, the Vitakraft bedding is made of recycled paper and can easily be composted or recycled again for a quick and effortless cleanup. The soft texture is great for your guinea pigs to dig through, explore, or just sit back and relax!
- Able to absorb up to three times its weight in liquids
- Soft, gentle scent helps to mask odor and keep home smelling clean and fresh, no matter how many guinea pigs you have in your family
- Made of 100% recycled paper, non-toxic and safe for most small animals, as well as most small humans
- Like other scented beddings, Vitakraft scented bedding can potentially aggravate allergies or allergy-related skin rashes on animals with sensitive skin, fur, or feet.
- Some previous customers have raised concerns over the bedding, which can sometimes turn into a mud-like slush if you live in a particularly wet area or after repeated exposure to animal waste.
Ultimately, the best bedding for guinea pigs is a matter of personal preference and the different requirements of each guinea pig home. However, across the board, our favorite bedding is the Carefresh Small Pet Bedding. While its price may be slightly on the higher end of the scale as compared to other beddings, it provides a crisp, clean, and high-quality bedding for your small furry friends.
It’s easier to clean than some other beddings (especially shavings), which makes it easier for you and your busy schedule. Moreover, the soft material is gentle on your guinea pigs’ skin and fur, which will not only help them feel more happy and relaxed but will also save you time and money on annoying vet visits.
If your guinea pigs like to burrow and dig, then the Carefresh bedding is a great fit, as it allows them to burrow to their hearts’ content without having to worry about small particulates. Moreover, the bedding has a high odor-control rating, which makes it an excellent choice for guinea pigs who live in small apartments or in environments that may not be able to enjoy fresh air around the year.
Whether you’re an old pro at living with guinea pigs or are just starting your journey of pet ownership, Carefresh Small Pet Bedding is the best bedding for guinea pigs that we’ve found. Let us know which of the beddings on the list was your favorite, or leave us a comment if you think we’ve missed anything!