How to Choose the Best Bedding for Your Small Pet

Mouse in a houseFinding the right bedding for your small pet is an important task. With so many available, how do you pick?

It depends on your individual pet – hamster, gerbil, mouse, rat, guinea pig, or rabbit – and what is important to you. Here are some of the most important factors you should consider when choosing bedding for your pet:

• Where does the bedding come from?
• How is the bedding made?
• Is the bedding safe for your pet?
• Is the bedding effective?
• Does your pet like the bedding?

We believe that the healthiest bedding for your small pet is the most natural bedding. So you should always consider where it comes from. It’s important to be aware that sludge-based beddings – often labeled “reclaimed pulp,” “reclaimed cellulose,” or “cellulose fiber” – are made of materials that contain harmful dioxins that aren’t safe for your pet. What else should you keep in mind when shopping for small pet bedding? Your pet’s comfort! Here are some different types of bedding you may want to consider for your little one:

1. Kiln-dried Pine: This is a great, all-purpose wood shavings bedding. It has a clean, fresh scent; great absorption; and has been the bedding choice for millions of pet owners, farms, and veterinary research facilities for decades. Also, this pet bedding is usually 100% all-natural and very affordable.

2. Red Cedar: This wood shaving has many unique, desirable characteristics. These include a strong, woodsy aroma; excellent odor control; and insect repellent properties. We recommend red cedar wood shavings bedding for larger animals in large enclosures, like dog kennels or rabbits in an outdoor hutch.

3. Aspen: This scent-free wood shaving contains no aromatic oils, and at the same time is highly absorbent. Aspen is the wood bedding of choice when there is concern that your pet may have respiratory sensitivities.

4. Paper: Paper can provide an absorbent habitat for small animals and offer color options that blend in with – or “liven up”– home décor. There are three primary categories of paper bedding for pets: sludge-free, reclaimed sludge based, and recycled paper pellets. To make sure you’re buying sludge-free pet bedding, avoid products labeled “reclaimed paper pulp” or “recycled newspaper” pellets; and avoid pet bedding that is a dull or dark gray color, as that is usually an indicator that the bedding contains sludge or inks and dyes, and therefore, dioxins.

Learn more about the best bedding options for your small pet >>
Have a question about selecting the right bedding for your pet? Just ask!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Guinea Pig

Guinea Pig SmileWhether you’re already a Guinea pig’s parent or thinking of becoming one, caring for your new pet is an important task. Here are some fast facts and care tips you might not know about your four legged family member:

1. Why your pet is called a pig is a mystery

We do know that some of the noises your Guinea pig makes sound like a pig, in fact, they’ll often squeak with delight when their favorite person enters the room. These little ones also love to eat, and are shaped somewhat like a pig with their big heads (in relation to the rest of their bodies) and their small tails.

2. Guinea pigs are social animals
Your little one’s home should be near household activities so your cavy can watch what’s going on and be a part of your daily life. Guinea pigs love to live with a small group of friends. We recommend that you house you Guinea pigs in pairs so they don’t become depressed. Housing males and females together, however, is NOT recommended because these small pets multiply quickly.

3. Guinea pigs are vegans
Guinea pigs eat only fruit and veggies. No meat or dairy for this small pet. They love eating hay, carrot tops, and broccoli, but you have to be careful as some types of produce are toxic to guinea pigs. Stay away from the beetroot, rhubarb leaves, and potato and its peelings, all of which could make your piggy sick. Instead, leafy greens (like romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, parsley) and pretty much all types of fruit should make up your cavy’s diet.

4. Guinea pigs love to hide
Guinea Pigs are playful pets and one of the games they enjoy most is hiding. Be sure to give your little one plenty of places to hide in. Empty paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes, plastic pipes and plastic flowerpots make great hideouts for your small pet (and your cavy will also use them as caves when its time for sleeping and resting).

5. Guinea pigs are very sensitive to temperature changes
Your cavy can easily become overheated or chilly if the temperature isn’t just right. 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal but a good rule of thumb is that if you’re comfortable, your Guinea pig will be, also.

Taking your small pet somewhere? Experts recommend covering your pet carrier with a warm blanket to keep your little one comfortable if you need go outside in the cold, and pre-cooling the car before going on a trip when the weather gets hot.

Learn more about Guinea pigs and how to keep yours happy and healthy >>
Have a question about your pet Guinea pig? Just ask!

4 Reasons Pine is Your Small Pet’s Favorite Bedding

Pine Bedding Guinea PigAs pet parents, you do everything it takes to keep your small pets happy, healthy, and safe – and that includes selecting quality pet bedding for your little one. What makes guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, and other small pets so content and comfortable in our pine bedding? Here are four reasons pine is (or should be) your pet’s favorite bedding:

1.)  It’s All-Natural. All-Good.

We like to say, “All-Natural is All-Good.” Our kiln-dried pine pet bedding is the most natural bedding you can buy – there’s no processing that involves inks, dyes, bleach, or other chemicals – just clean, screened wood fiber, which makes our pine pet bedding safer than some of the competitors’ products. Also, there are no additives – with pine, odor control comes naturally.  Even better? It’s completely biodegradable.

2.) The Scent is Oh-So-Fresh!

Pine pet bedding has been proven to give you twice the odor control of other beddings. Say goodbye to stinky odors and reduce costly cleanings. Pine helps your special pet stay fresh and clean. Plus, kiln drying the shavings makes pine pet bedding safe and absorbent for our small friends.

3.) American Wood Fibers Bedding is 100% Sludge-Free.

What exactly is sludge? Well, it’s defined as a muddy or slushy mass, deposit, or sediment. It often is the production process of choice for many paper bedding products. These sludge-based beddings – often labeled “reclaimed pulp,” “reclaimed cellulose,” or “cellulose fiber” – are the result of discharge from pulp mill clarifier solids. Doesn’t sound like something you want your small pet to snuggle in, does it? Rest assured, AWF pet bedding is always sludge-free.  Learn more about sludge-based bedding here >>

4.) Our Products Are Made with Love.

We do everything it takes to ensure we’re producing the highest quality pet bedding (and other products) possible. The safety, quality, and consistency of our pet bedding products, including our pine wood shavings bedding, are of the utmost importance to us. We know you count on American Wood Fibers to keep your small pet’s home as safe and comfortable as can be, and we take that trust very seriously.

And, each day we commit to you and your pets that we’ll continue to help maintain a sustainable future for our nation’s forests. We haven’t wavered from this pledge since the doors of our family business opened in 1966.
What do you think about American Wood Fibers small pet pine bedding? We welcome your questions and opinions; please tell us in the comments!

10 Tips for a Happy, Healthy Small Pet

Healthy and Happy Small Pet TipsIt is important to provide proper care for your small animals. Once you bring home that cute little fur-baby, he or she becomes a part of the family. Here are some tips for keeping your small pet happy and healthy:

  1. Always provide fresh water

Fresh water should always be readily available for your small pet. If using a water bottle, it is important to check it every day to make sure there is plenty available at all times and change the water at least once per week. If using an open dish, check your pet’s water supply throughout the day. Refill your pet’s water dish with fresh, clean water daily.

  1. Provide a healthy, balanced diet

Small pets should be fed a well-balanced diet that consists of high-quality pellets, veggies, fruits, and timothy hay (for some pets). The proportions of each depend on the type of pet you have. Learn more about the type of diet your small pet requires.

  1. Pick the right habitat

All small pet habitats should be large enough to allow them to move around freely. Your pet needs enough space to be able to eat, sleep, and play in his or her habitat. Make sure the habitat for your pet is secure so that your pet cannot chew or climb out. It is also important for the habitat to be well ventilated and located in a room with a comfortable temperature, out of direct sunlight.

  1. Replace bedding frequently

Many small animals love to burrow, dig, and tunnel in bedding. Cover the cage floor with sludge-free paper bedding, pine, or aspen shavings. Since the purpose of bedding is to absorb moisture and odor, it is important to replace it frequently. Replace bedding at least once a week to ensure the healthiest environment for your rabbit, guinea pig, hamster, mouse, rat, gerbil, ferret, or other small pet. If housing multiple pets in one habitat, more frequent changing may be required.

  1. Clean the habitat

Replacing bedding is not enough to keep your pet’s habitat clean. Before adding the fresh bedding, wash the cage with clean water and a gentle all-purpose cleaner. Mild soap can be used as an alternative to a cleaner. Allow the habitat to dry before adding fresh bedding. And don’t forget to check any enrichment devices you’ve added, such as tunnels, hidey holes and exercise wheels to ensure they remain clean too.

  1. Provide chew toys

Many small animals are rodents and most have teeth that grow continuously. In order to prevent teeth from becoming overgrown, make sure to provide plenty of chew toys for your pet to gnaw on. Treat sticks, safe wood chews and gnaw bones such as those offered at your favorite pet store are a good option.

  1. Hay is essential for some animals

Hay is only necessary for small pets that require high-fiber diets. These include guinea pigs, chinchillas, and rabbits. Timothy hay, orchard hay, or oat grass should make up 75% of the diet for these animals. Without hay, these animals’ intestines cannot function properly. Timothy hay can also be given to hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats.

  1. Exercise

Just like humans, small pets need exercise in order to stay healthy. Larger small pets, like rabbits, guinea pigs, and ferrets, should be let out of their cage every day for exercise and socialization. Hamsters, mice, rats, chinchillas, and gerbils love to run on exercise wheels in their cage. Always remember to supervise your pet when they are let out of their habitat.

  1. Not all pets welcome friends

It is important to know that you should never house two different types of small pets together. Some types of small pets are very social and can live in groups, while others are better off alone. Guinea pigs, ferrets, and rabbits can be housed in pairs if they are raised together or are introduced correctly. If you house a male and female together, make sure to spay or neuter before introducing.

  1. Handling your pet

It is important for your pet to become accustomed to you and being handled. When you first adopt your pet, give him or her some time to get acclimated to their new home before handling them. Be sure to learn how to pick up and handle your pet the proper way before doing so for the first time.

Learn more about small pet care »

5 Facts About Your Pet Rabbit

Pet Rabbit Care Tips
Whether you’re already a rabbit’s parent or thinking of becoming one, caring for your bunny is an important task. Here are some fast facts and care tips you might not know about your newest family member:

  1. Rabbits are social animals

Most bunnies are very social and want to be a part of the family, but where you place your fur baby’s habitat should depend on his/her individual personality. Shy rabbits prefer a more secluded location where the hustle and bustle won’t overwhelm them. Most bunnies, however, prefer to be in the center of the action where they interact with you and your family. When choosing a location for your furry friend’s new home, choose a place where your rabbit feels comfortable.

  1. Rabbits have a “need for speed

Bunnies like to jump and run, so make sure you give your rabbit plenty of room to race around. A good rule of thumb is that your rabbit’s home should be at least four times bigger than he/she is so there is enough space to stretch out. Rabbits also need secure flooring to feel comfortable moving around. Bunnies tend not to like linoleum floors, because the material feels uncomfortable against their paws and it’s difficult for them to get traction when moving around

  1. Rabbits need chew toys

Your rabbit’s teeth are constantly growing, so your fur-baby will constantly chew on things to help keep his/her teeth from overgrowing (a condition called “maloccusion”). Paper bags, paper towel rolls and boxes tend to be a favorite toy for bunnies. Your bunny will also chew anything else they can find (including wires, cables and cords) if you let them hop around on their own. Make sure your home is bunny-proof before you let your furry friend hop off on an adventure, and always supervise time spent outside their home.

  1. Many house plants are toxic to rabbits

Your bunny should not eat houseplants or grass that have been treated with pesticides. A healthy diet for your rabbit has a limited amount of fruit and lots of chewy cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli and kale every day. And don’t forget carrots, Doc! Fresh food, hay, and water should always be available and you should remember to throw away any fruits or veggies your little one doesn’t eat within 24 hours. 

  1. Rabbits can be kept together if …

You should only keep male and female bunnies together if they’ve been spayed or neutered. If bunnies have been raised together, you can keep two female bunnies or two male bunnies in the same enclosure as their fur friend. However, adult bunnies that haven’t been raised with others should be kept separately.

Learn more about rabbits and how to keep yours happy and healthy >>

Have a question about your pet rabbit? Just ask!