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!

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 »

What’s In A Name

Pet owners put a lot of trust in the manufacturers of the pet products they buy. To us, this trust is a constant reminder of just how important a role our products play in their lives.

So, who exactly, is American Wood Fibers and why do so many pet owners trust AWF for their small pets’ bedding?

American Wood Fibers was founded by Frank Faehner almost 50 years ago and has grown to be the nation’s largest producer of wood shavings and wood flour. Today, there are ten American Wood Fibers plants and distribution centers across the country, with locations near the majority of the major timber processors, coast-to-coast. Our facilities process more than one billion pounds of fiber per year. Yet, despite the size of our organization, AWF’s focus remains on family; both our customers and our own.

American Wood Fibers embodies a culture of courtesy and respect, and a commitment to customer service. We are also proud of our commitment to the environment; both our environment and your small pet’s environment. Throughout our manufacturing process, we put a tremendous amount of effort into producing our products safely, sustainably and consistently. AWF pet bedding products are all-natural, dioxin-free, and produced with your small pet’s health, safety, and comfort in mind. We focus on total waste utilization, utilize recyclable materials for our packaging, and always strive to develop environmentally-friendly products.

Our family of small animal bedding brands include Premier Pet™ and Pets Pick™. We also work with a large group of well-known private label partners. In addition to the AWF small pet bedding division, the company offers large animal (horse) bedding, industrial wood flour, and premium wood pellet fuel products.

AWF will continue to develop new and improved offerings so that we always present the highest quality line of products, and pet owners have choices in bedding that are good for their pets, good for their home environment, and good for the planet.